New York Assembly Passes Universal Healthcare Bill!

From Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, lead sponsor of the New York Health Act:

Assembly Passes Universal Health Care Bill
Historic Vote Makes It “Truly Achievable Goal” Says Sponsor

On Wednesday, May 27, the New York State Assembly passed the “New York Health Act” universal health care bill (A. 5062/S. 3525) by a vote of 92 to 52. New York Health would provide universal, comprehensive health care to all New Yorkers without premiums, co-pays, deductibles, or limited provider networks.

“Assembly passage of New York Health will elevate the issue on the public agenda and change the conversation from ‘it’s a great idea that will never happen’ to a truly achievable goal,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, lead Assembly sponsor of the bill.

The last time a universal health care bill was on the Assembly floor was 1992. It passed with a solid majority. “But then, the focus of reform shifted to Washington. While the federal Affordable Care Act has done a lot of good, it’s clear that a lot of problems remain – and if we want to fix them, we have to do it ourselves,” Mr. Gottfried said.

According to an analysis by University of Massachusetts/Amherst Economics Department Chair Gerald Friedman, 98% of New Yorkers would spend less for health coverage and health care under New York Health than they do today. New York would save over $70 billion by eliminating health insurance company administration and profit; reducing health care provider and employer administrative costs; and capturing savings from negotiating prices of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Even after expanding coverage to all New Yorkers; eliminating deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-network charges; and increasing low Medicaid reimbursements, New York Health would generate net savings of $45 billion.

“Funding and administering health insurance is the primary uncontrolled burden on local budgets,” said Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar. “The question for me is how these hidden costs of health care – insurance company profit, administrative waste and inefficiency, mandatory local Medicaid spending – affect our local taxes. The facts are undeniable: New York Health, based on my conservative estimates, would reduce City and School District tax rates by at least 20% and could eliminate many County property taxes entirely. Getting full health care coverage while cutting property taxes seems like a no-brainer to me.”

In December and January, the Assembly Health Committee held hearings on the bill in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, New York City, Mineola, and Albany. The Committee heard testimony from almost 200 witnesses including New Yorkers with insurance who are bankrupted by their deductibles; patients who lose trusted providers due to restricted networks; doctors who spend hours on the phone negotiating with insurance bureaucrats; and medical students who “signed up for medical school, not business school.”

“Our healthcare system is fundamentally damaged. Too many parties are in it to make a buck off the misfortune of the sick and injured. That’s why NY needs to create a single payer healthcare system that cares for all patients without the interference of predatory insurance companies and other profit-driven enterprises seeking to drain the system,” said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, an RN at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx and president of NYSNA. “Only under a system of universal access to care based on the highest quality for everyone – not on ability to pay, social status, or any other demographic impediment – will there be enough resources directed to the proper care for patients.”

The New York Health Act removes financial barriers to health care – the co-pays and deductibles – that keep some of my patients from seeing me when they need to,” said Oliver Fein, MD, Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program-NY Metro. “I also wouldn’t have to worry about my patients affording the medications, lab tests or consultations that they need. I wouldn’t have to waste countless hours fighting insurance companies to approve necessary medical care. The New York Health Act is a universal, single payer system that would guarantee equal access to care that is funded fairly – something every New Yorker and resident of this country deserves.”

New York Health would be a boon to business. Employer spending on health care eats up a median 12.8% of payroll costs on health insurance, up more than 50% in a decade, with small businesses spending even higher percentages. According to the Friedman study, New York Health could be funded through an income assessment averaging just 8.1% of payroll.

“New Yorkers deserve better,” said Assembly Member Gottfried. “We should be able to go to the doctor when we need to, without worrying whether we can afford it. We should choose our doctors and hospitals without worrying about network restrictions. We deserve health coverage for all of us, paid for based on our ability to pay, not what the market will bear. I’m proud the Assembly has passed the New York Health Act, and I look forward to working with a great community of advocates including medical professionals, medical students, organized labor, and Senate sponsor Bill Perkins, to enact it into law.”

New York Health has been endorsed by the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association, Committee of Interns and Residents, Doctors Council SEIU, NY chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, SEIU 1199, NYS AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 and 1179, United Auto Workers 9 & 9A, UFCW Local 1500, Capital District Area Labor Federation, Local 32BJ SEIU, NYSUT, United Federation of Teachers, Working Families Party, Green Party, Citizen Action, StateWide Senior Action Council, NYPIRG, League of Women Voters, and others.



  1. Katherine on June 8, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    What is the next step in order for this to move forward?

  2. Ms. Billie M. Spaight on June 8, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Will the State Senate pass it?

  3. Bob Mantione on June 9, 2015 at 5:07 am

    I don’t understand what this means. Are we going to have single-payer, universal health care in New York? Does another government body have to approve it? Does the governor have to sign it? Is there a mechanism in place?

    • Ben on June 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm

      Hi Bob – Yes, the Senate will also have to pass the bill, and then it will need a signature from the Governor. There is a ways to go in the Senate, but the overwhelming support in the Assembly will led activists and organizers focus on swing votes in the Senate, so this is great news.

      • Bob Mantione on June 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm

        Thanks for the clarification.

  4. Jacqueline Maier, MD on June 9, 2015 at 11:38 am

    I have been waiting for this ever since I started practicing medicine 36 years ago. I hope I will still see this in my lifetime and before I am forced to retire mainly because of the insurance companies and all their mandates including medication control and control over necessary laboratory studies including blood analyses, radiology, ultrasound, etc. These mandates usually differ with each insurance company. That the assembly passed this bill is the best news I have received in a long time.

  5. Nadia Franciscono on June 15, 2015 at 12:03 am

    Good for the NY Assembly!
    Now let’s see if the NY senate can come through for people. If not, then New Yorkers should throw all of them out and start over. I am holding my breath.

  6. Barbara A. Brody on June 19, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Does the Bill allow providers to opt-out as they do for Medicare?

  7. billshaver on July 17, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I have good faith it’ll pass the conservative senate in new York as they only look at numbers & it is a substantial cost savings for the state for public & mnuni employees alone not to mention retirees & those to come ( a looming bubble)then of Course the photo opp gov…he’ll sign for the photo opp, but real benefactors will be all, fencing out insurers, not so fast as the state will buy insurance policies for all & cover costs via revenue collection from withholding taxes. This should set the precedent for all other states..and come into force after 2017 when sect 1332 of the ACA comes into play. So its on its way at last!

    • Robert Henry on July 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Does that mean that it will be at least until Jan.2017 before this universal healthcare bill,if passed and if signed by the governor,that we would be able to participate in this well overdue health care reform?

      • Robert Henry on August 4, 2015 at 6:10 pm

        I just found out that the Senate did NOT pass this bill.Unfortunate for all NYS residents.The Affordable Care Act is a good start,but it needs a LOT of improvement,and the insurance rates for the ACA are going up at least another 7-10% for 2016. It is not getting affordable ,but going towards becoming more and more unaffordable. When are our “leaders” going to look out for us “regular” people,and not looking after the insurance companies profits and executive payouts! Shame on our elected officials in the Senate for not passing this bill!

  8. lawrence silverberg on August 3, 2015 at 6:08 am

    although i am in favor of a national single payer system(medicare for all), i’m not in favor of this one, as it would force nys seniors off of medicare. i suggest everyone read the actual bill.