ALBANY – A bill to create a single-payer health care system in New York may finally stand a chance now that Democrats have control of both houses.
At a lengthy, packed joint-hearing on the proposed New York Health Act held Tuesday in Albany, the Albany Times Union reports lawmakers heard from a variety of individuals covering the spectrum of the healthcare industry who all agreed that its goal of providing comprehensive, universal coverage to New Yorkers is laudable.
But whether single-payer is the system to achieve that was the topic of spirited debate.
The legislation proposes to replace traditional public and private health insurance programs in the state with a single, comprehensive, publicly funded system that would serve all New Yorkers regardless of their ability to pay. New Yorkers would no longer have to pay premiums, deductibles, co-pays, out-of-network charges or have limited provider networks under the bill. It would be financed through federal support and a progressive payroll tax paid jointly by employers and employees, and shouldered largely by wealthy New Yorkers.
Opponents of the bill say they are worried about the unpredictability and unknowns associated with upending an entire health care system, not to mention the idea of entrusting such an important system with the state government. The also say the progressive tax structure could cause high-wage earners in the state to move, draining the program of significant funding. It would also destroy the private insurance sector in the state, they argued, eliminating roughly 100,000 jobs.
A 2018 study of the bill’s possible effects by the nonpartisan RAND Corporation concluded that it would expand coverage while reducing total health spending.
While New York’s uninsured rate has dropped significantly since the federal Affordable Care Act was signed into law, nearly 1 million of the state’s 19.5 million residents remain uninsured. A recent survey of nearly 1,000 New Yorkers also found that more than half of respondents believe their current health care costs are unaffordable.
No Time-Line was provided on when legislation will be taken up in committee or voted on by lawmakers.