My friend Dr. Sunny Aslam, MD is a psychiatrist who works primarily with low income patients and whose state-run hospital also serves the homeless. He knows first-hand the weaknesses of our health care system dominated by private insurers. The hospital he works at has an entire building full of staff dedicated to navigating the incredibly complex insurance system, filling out all the different forms that each of dozens of private insurance companies use, and fighting the insurance companies just to get paid.
He is active with two groups working to bring a much better system of healthcare that provides much better coverage and also costs less. One is at the New York State level (Campaign for New York Health) and one is at the federal level with Physicians for a National Health Plan.
There is a bill at the NY State level that would eliminate private insurance company coverage and replace it with a single payer system. This just means that doctors and hospitals would bill the State for medical services, instead of having to deal with dozens of different health insurance companies who want to deny care to people who need it and thereby make zillions of dollars. The whole system would be funded by a payroll tax instead of paying extremely expensive insurance premiums. This would save businesses and 98% of New Yorkers money. Most of the money comes from payroll and investment taxes on the very rich, but everyone pays in at least a little (except for people making less than $25k a year).
We’re getting close to passing this New York Health Act in New York State. All the Democratic State Senators support it. The challenge is to convince Republican State Senators to support it. With the support of just one Republican, a majority of State Senators would support it. The Act would save businesses and people money, it would free counties from the portion of property taxes that go to pay Medicaid (property taxes are a big deal in Upstate New York), and it eliminates tons of waste – something Republicans all generally support. A full study is available here.
To do this, organizing efforts are focusing on the districts where there are Republican State Senators, such as in the North Country and around the Watertown, NY area. They are working to appeal to the sensibilities and concerns of people in these more rural areas with conservative ideas, including highlighting that President Trump promised he’d bring everyone better healthcare.
Here is a great letter to the editor Sunny wrote along these lines, focusing on media attention about how military veterans would lose important coverage under the Republicans’ American Health Care Act and how the NY Health Act would be much better.
‘Health bill seen hurting veterans’ (Watertown Daily Times, 5/7/17) is yet another reason why we need an improved Medicare for all system in our country. By tinkering around the edges of our broken health care system, we can’t move towards President Trump’s promises of comprehensive coverage for less money for all Americans.
There are 108 sponsors of HR 676 [federal legislation] which would create this universal, guaranteed coverage. Powerful insurance company interests oppose Medicare for all, because it would end their reign over American health care. Thus most politicians still oppose it as well, despite the potential savings to our state ($45 billion the first year implemented) and our nation (over $400 billion annually). These savings come from the unsustainable administrative costs of private health insurance.
We can act to cover all those who live in New York by supporting the NY Health Act. The plan would be more comprehensive than private insurance plans, covering all medically necessary services and prescriptions for New Yorkers. You pay based on income and there are no copays, or deductibles.
We can afford this by reducing administrative waste associated with private insurance companies, and negotiating fair drug and medical device prices. 98% of New Yorkers would pay less for health care.
The NY Health Act is a huge boost for New York businesses. It would lower payroll taxes and property taxes, which currently pay for Medicaid. An estimated 200,000 jobs would be created because of decreased employer costs. Plus no one gets stuck in “job lock” where a person has difficultly leaving a job they rely on for healthcare.
We need State Senator Ritchie on board as a sponsor. If you want excellent coverage for yourself and neighbors that doesn’t depend on your job, here is your chance to act.