Single payer health care bill sponsored by Russell clears Assembly, would provide insurance to all New Yorkers
North Country Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, says legislation she co-sponsored that would create a universal plan to cover every New York State resident, known as the New York Health Act (A.5062-A), passed the Assembly June 1.
"I have supported the single payer system for years. Health care is a fundamental human right – not a luxury. I think including everyone in one system is the best way to control and drive down costs,” she said.Russell, whose district includes towns bordering the St. Lawrence River plus Canton and Potsdam, said access to quality health insurance can literally be the difference between life and death.
"The Affordable Care Act was a step in the right direction, but it still has its problems. Health care is still inequitable and keeps some people from accessing basic health care," Russell said.
"People are still racking up huge bills because of high co-pays and skyrocketing premiums. We can ensure that every New Yorker has the coverage they need. We have an opportunity to put people over profits and continue the goal to make sure hard working middle-class families have the same access to quality health care as the wealthiest New Yorkers," she said.
The New York Health Act would establish a universal health care system, known as New York Health, and would expand coverage eligibility to include all residents, regardless of wealth, income, age or health status.
In addition, every enrollee would have access to the full range of doctors and service providers offered. Benefits would include comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, prescription drug costs, laboratory testing, rehabilitative care, dental, vision and hearing care.
As with private insurance, out-of-state care would be covered; both when residents are traveling and need health services or when there is a clinical reason to receive care outside the state, Assemblywoman Russell said.
Those providing or coordinating care would be fully paid by New York Health, with no co-pays or other charges to patients. Funding for the system would be based on a shared 80/20 employer/employee payroll tax contribution, eliminating the “regressive tax” of premiums, co-pays and deductibles currently imposed on patients regardless of their ability to pay.
She said under the current system too many people are faced with rising costs and crushing medical bills, and, in some cases, it’s causing them to go without critical care.
“Universal health care will help get the focus back on prevention and wellness, which will ultimately rein in health care costs and save taxpayer dollars,” Russell said.
With health care costs increasing nationally, considerable research has shown that a universal health care system would reduce costs and pass savings along to patients, consumers and taxpayers.
A 2009 state Department of Health report showed that this type of system would provide the lowest cost for universal coverage in comparison to systems relying on private and employer-based insurance. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cites wellness and preventive health care as key measures that will help people live longer, more productive lives while reducing overall health care costs.
Assemblywoman Russell said she also believes the establishment of a universal health care system in New York State would benefit businesses.
"We need fairness in our health care system because it will lower costs and will help us attract a better workforce, particularly the skilled and professional workers that businesses want to hire," she said.