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State Assembly Gives Nod To Universal Health Care Plan For All New Yorkers

Assemblymember Shelley Mayer.
Assemblymember Shelley Mayer. Photo Credit: File

With national healthcare funding in question, the New York Assembly passed legislation last week that would provide coverage to all New Yorkers under a universal single-payer system.

The plan, known as New York Health, would establish a universal health care system across the state that would expand coverage to include all residents regardless of age, income, or pre-existing condition.

It would also provide inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, maternity care, prescription drug costs, laboratory testing, rehabilitative care and dental, vision and hearing care.

The bill, which has been passed three times by the Assembly in the past, has little chance of making it through the Republican-led Senate.

Although the bill's sponsor, Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried, said support is growing in the Senate for the plan.

If approved by the Senate, the publicly funded coverage would include no network restrictions, deductibles or co-pays. Rather than the regressive structure of high premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, funding would be based on a shared 80/20 employer/employee contribution system.

Additionally, state funding would be combined with federal funds that are currently received for Medicare, Medicaid, and Child Health Plus. The state would also seek federal waivers that will allow New York to completely fold those programs into New York Health. 

The plan would also be particularly beneficial to small businesses. They would no longer have to compete with large corporate competitors, who can more easily offer healthcare to employees, said Westchester Assemblymember Shelley Mayer, a co-sponsor of the bill.

"With such deep uncertainty from the federal government regarding the future of healthcare, the possibility of millions of New Yorkers losing their healthcare coverage has become a very real concern," said Mayer. "The pressure is now on the Republicans and their allies in the New York State Senate to rise to the challenge and meet the healthcare needs of New Yorkers."

The plan has received the endorsement of numerous organizations, including the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association and the Community Health Care Association of NYS. 

The bill will now move to the Senate for consideration. 

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