A vote for better health care


To the editor:

America’s health care system is broken. We pay more per capita than any other country in the world. But when it comes to results, America ranks last compared to other economically advanced nations.

Not only do we have people who have no access to health care, most of those Americans who do have some sort of coverage are underinsured.

If you are healthy right now, you may believe there is no reason to worry about whether your future health care needs will be met. But, if you are diagnosed with a terrible disease, or suffer a life-changing accident, chances are you will find you are underinsured. You may lose everything you worked for to medical bankruptcy. You may find yourself, or a loved one, unable to afford the treatment necessary to alleviate suffering or prevent death.

There is a movement to change our health care system to one that values patients over profits, but it faces an uphill fight because there are a small number of people who make a large profit from the way it works now. When it comes to politics, money often trumps the needs of the public.

We need a system which resembles those of Canada and France. Were we to make such a change, needless deaths and suffering would be eliminated. Taxpayers and patients would save a ton of money.

Efforts to make meaningful change are happening on a national level, and in many states including New York. The pending federal legislation — which would allow Medicare to negotiate the cost of a handful drugs — is a small step in the right direction.

The New York Health Act would be a much larger step. It would provide comprehensive health care for every New Yorker. The Canadian system began in a small province and eventually spread to the whole country. If New York enacted this law, it would eventually spread to the whole nation.

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera is the chair of the senate’s health committee. He champions the New York Health Act. If he is not re-elected, a new chair will have to be named for that committee. Special interests would work overtime to install one who is either indifferent to, or opposed to, the New York Health Act.

If Sen. Rivera is not re-elected, it would be a huge setback for efforts to fix New York’s broken health care system, which would have national implications.

Sen. Rivera is well-liked by the folks he represented for 11 years, but redistricting cost him half of those constituents. It made him vulnerable to a primary. He has made enemies. He speaks out against special interests in the state senate.

And, the Bronx Democratic County Committee likes folks who follow orders, while Rivera is independent.

Some elected officials say one thing in public but have a very different message behind the scenes in Albany. Sen. Rivera has a track record in the state senate. His re-election is supported by activists for tenant rights and affordable housing, activists for our public schools including CUNY and SUNY, and activists for women’s rights, public safety, immigrants’ rights, transportation and, of course, those working to reform our health care system.

His opponent held a position in the Democratic County Committee, and what some would say, is a patronage job at the elections board. She has never run for elected office before. In many ways she is an unknown quantity.

Maybe she is wonderful, but she could be a New York version of Kyrsten Sinema. Who knows?

In this primary, it makes sense to vote for Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a proven fighter for the public good, whose re-election will support efforts to fix America’s broken health care system.

Gene Binder