To the editor:
In the past year, 800,000 souls were lost to the coronavirus pandemic. Another 100,000 perished in the opioid epidemic. And yet another 100,000 lost to gun violence.
Life expectancy is decreasing. Maternal morbidity is increasing. Today it is safer to give birth in Bosnia than in the United States.
These epidemics are taking lives in all communities, but disproportionately in communities of color. In the scales between public good and profit, our federal system is firmly committed to profit.
With profit supreme, we are told that we cannot afford universal guaranteed health care as a human right for everyone.
In New York state, we have the opportunity to try something new. The New York Health Act would provide quality comprehensive health care to every resident of the state, and residents of New Jersey who work in New York. Increasing costs of prescriptions, premiums, deductibles and co-pays have left a million New Yorkers with no insurance, and 50 percent of insured New Yorkers are under-insured, while health care profits climbed to $55 billion.
The savings from eliminating for-profit health insurance are so great that New York would be able to provide long-term in-home care, vision, dental, hearing prescriptions, mental health, substance abuse and reproductive care, and still save $11 billion.
These figures have been twice vetted — by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and by the conservative Rand Corp. Only the wealthiest New Yorkers — less than 5 percent — will see an increase in costs.
We can afford to provide universal access to health care, the way democratic countries do.
In 2021 and 2022, the New York Health Act has a majority of co-sponsors in both the Assembly and the state senate. A senate working group has been convened to work for consensus within the caucus. It is time to address our multiple health epidemics, at least in New York.
The time to pass this bill is in this next legislative session. Ask Jeffrey Dinowitz and Alessandra Biaggi to inform their constituents about why they sponsor the New York Health Act. Too few of us know about it.
And then ask Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins to bring the bill up for a vote in 2022. If we speak up, quality health care for all New Yorkers is achievable.