It's time to adopt NY Health Act


To the editor:

Welfare for slackers. Medicaid and Medicare aren’t health care, but entitlements, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Now that his huge tax cut for billionaires and corporations has passed, exploding our deficit, Ryan wants to save money on the backs of the old, the poor, the sick, the disabled — and children —  by cutting benefits to Medicare and Medicaid (and then Social Security).

Medicare is our most trusted health care program. It’s not as comprehensive or affordable as it could be, but it’s lots better than most people have before they turn 65. Its public health effects are remarkable — although the United States spends twice as much as other countries, our health metrics are terrible, except for those who have been on Medicare for 15 to 20 years.

Universal health care creates healthy populations, even among the very old. And while private insurance spends 15 to 20 percent of every premium dollar on profits, marketing, executive salaries and huge bureaucracies whose jobs are to protect profits, not health, traditional Medicare spends 1.8 percent on overhead.

Why so low? Because its single-payer approach seeks no profits, and doesn’t need huge bureaucracies designed to ensure profits by denying care.

Since 1992, when single-payer was scored by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, Americans have known that all of us could be covered for lower cost if we only eliminate our multi-payer complexity, which wastes 30 percent of our health care dollars, gives us worse health outcomes than peer countries, and rations care based on income — so that Saudi princes and Russian oligarchs get better care in the United States than most Americans do.

But, but, but, scoffs Paul Ryan, Americans must get unworthy slackers off our tax rolls! Slackers? Of the 70 million Americans on Medicaid, most (80 percent) are our poorest elderly, our long-term disabled, and half our children, many of whom go to bed hungry days in every months. 

The rest? Two-thirds of adult Medicaid recipients — those who are not elderly or disabled — do work, as many homeless do.

New York Health — improved Medicare for all — will eliminate the surprisingly costly Medicaid means testing and administration, identify fraud faster, and cut clinical costs through coordination of care, while focusing on prevention and maintenance.

For example, New York Health covers evidence-based addiction treatment and therapy — the brain being an essential body part that requires essential medical care. Effective treatment requires time and expertise. Currently covered stopgap measures resemble throwing taxpayer money out car windows.

With New York Health, 98 percent of us will pay less than we pay now, but get comprehensive coverage — better than Medicare, better than Medicaid, better than private insurance. It will allow physicians to focus on patients, eliminate financial obstacles to health care, and dramatically improve public health.

Learn more at NYHCampaign.org.

Call state Sen. Jeffrey Klein and ask him to champion it. It’s fiscally conservative, and it’s moral.

David Knapp

David Knapp