New York State Assembly bill Search
The state Assembly on Wednesday voted for a single-payer health bill, the first time in more than two decades the chamber has taken up the measure.
The vote was 89-47, an overwhelming but largely symbolic step toward universal health insurance. The bill now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate where it is not expected to pass.
Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chair of the health committee, gave an impassioned speech on the floor in support of the New York Health Act, arguing that it was long past time for New Yorkers to rid themselves of the intrusive insurance companies whose goal is to deny claims rather than provide care.
"You do not have to be an Einstein to understand New York Health is the right choice for New York, " Gottfried said.
Gottfried, a Democrat from Manhattan, spent the legislative session barnstorming the state, trying to gain support for his bill, which would be funded through a progressive income tax and payroll assessments. There would be a net savings of $45 billion in health spending by 2019, Gottfried said, based on an analysis from Dr. Gerald Friedman, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, though that figure was attacked by Republicans.
The bill, Gottfried said, would lower costs by getting rid of insurance companies. It would lower administrative costs and allow doctors to focus their time on treating patients instead of fighting for reimbursements.
"What will bring down health care costs is taking out of the equation the more than 20 percent we now spend on administrators whose job it is to fight with insurance companies, " he said.
The plan's benefits, Gottfried said, would be more generous than any plan on the current market, and there would be no co-pays or deductibles. The bill would also require a care coordinator for every member, though that coordinator is not empowered to choose the type of care a patient receives.
For some Republicans, it was all too good to be true.
"This bill promises remarkable things for New York State residents, " said Assemblyman Andy Goodell, a Republican from Chautauqua. "It says providers, 'you'll be paid a lot more money, ' and it says to the employees 'you'll contribute a lot less money, ' and it says to the patients 'you'll have much broader access, ' and to the employers 'you'll pay $45 billion less.' My background is in math and economics and I haven't been able to figure out how this all works. There is no free lunch, there is no free health care."
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