Don't wait to revamp health care


To the editor:

In his new state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included a line item recommendation for a commission to study options for “universal access to high-quality, affordable health care in New York.”

Where has the governor been in the past several years? In that time, two highly qualified commissions have studied and reported their findings on the New York Health Act that has been voted on in the New York legislature.

That “universal” and “high-quality care” plan was passed in the Assembly for four consecutive years.

It was stymied in the Republican-majority senate with the help of Gov. Cuomo himself.

In its recent report, the distinguished and politically centrist Rand Corp., concluded that the New York Health Act — which, among other things, includes long-term care — will not only be generally affordable, including for the more than 10 million New Yorkers presently under- or uninsured, but will also save money for 90 percent of New Yorkers covered by it.

Gov. Cuomo’s foot dragging on the bill is based ostensibly on his vow not to raise taxes — which, in the case of the New York Health Act, is a red herring in sheep’s clothing.

Health care under the act would be financed by replacing private insurance charges and out-of-pocket “taxes” with payroll contributions and contributions from other income sources (stocks and dividends) — exactly the way in which Social Security and Medicare are now funded. The total cost is neutral in relation to the state budget — self-financed.

The health act, furthermore, will lower taxes for cities and counties by eliminating the burden of Medicaid taxes, since those costs will be subsumed under the health act itself. And property taxes will also be lowered (by an estimated 10 to 25 percent) because taxpayers will no longer have to pay separately for current and retired public employees in schools, libraries, police and fire departments — all of whom would be covered by the health act.

The New York Health Act does not change our medical care. We will still choose our own doctors. What will change, by elimination, will be the high deductibles, prior authorizations, rising co-pays, prior condition cancellations that so often, at present, cause us to delay or forego critical care, with the threat of bankruptcy a constant shadow.

The governor says he approves of Medicare for All — just not (yet) in his own backyard. Call or write the governor yourself and tell him what you think. Encourage your senator (Alessandra Biaggi) and Assembly representative (Jeffrey Dinowitz) to vote against the delaying tactic of a new commission.

The legislature with Democratic majorities now in both houses is in a position now not only to have hearings, but to pass the New York Health Act, with its provision of comprehensive health care for every New York resident, regardless of class, race or immigration status. What is at stake here is our moral, as well as our fiscal and physical, well being.

Berel Lang

Berel Lang,