Passing health care reform in New York isn't easy


(re: “Universal health care depends on just one senator we all know,” Sept. 28)

I am a firm supporter of the New York Health Act, which would provide universal health coverage for all New Yorkers. 

Unfortunately, as last session came to a close, this important piece of legislation was one vote short of having the ability to pass the senate. In my leadership position, I was asked to make a promise to shed light on the benefits of single-payer health care by having a senate hearing on this bill. I remain committed to doing so.

The benefits to having a hearing on this important issue in the senate is two-fold. First, as previously stated, last session, we were one vote short of having the requisite votes needed to pass the New York Health Act. This January, we will be short two votes, and potentially more. By holding a hearing in the state senate, we can educate all state senators on the benefits of single-payer health care for New York.

According to an analysis by University of Massachusetts/Amherst Economics department chair Gerald Friedman, 98 percent of New Yorkers would spend less for health coverage and health care under New York Health than they do today.

We also need a hearing to address the concerns single-payer health care raises when it comes to funding, job loss and increased taxes. There are not issues we can take lightly and have proven to be stumbling blocks to other states in their efforts to implement a single-payer health plan.

Will the working class be able to understand the net effects of raising their taxes in exchange for eliminating their health care premiums? Will seniors see the benefit of dis-enrolling in their Medicare coverage for the New York Health Act? 

Can we guarantee that the cumulative 150,000 newly unemployed workers that result from shifting to single-payer health care will be absorbed into new jobs created by the expansion of state coverage? Do not think that these concerns don’t make some electeds gun shy in supporting this plan.

In order for us to do this right and gain support in the senate, we need to have an official hearing to talk through the mistakes made in other states when trying to implement this health care system, and make sure we are ready for this new health care paradigm.

As I’ve conveyed numerous times, I’ve been in dialogue with my colleagues across the aisle about holding a hearing. The next step is to hold a hearing. The Riverdale Press initially reported a factually inaccurate statement that I did not reach out across the aisle, and the paper failed to do its due diligence by even asking what steps I took.

In response to a clarification made by my office backed by emails, The Riverdale Press chose to retaliate with a biased editorial forcing me to field calls while in synagogue on the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana. 

The IDC has countless times before been able to influence GOP committee chairs to hold hearings on very Democratic issues, including paid family leave and raise the age. Both of these pieces of legislation later became law. And as for results? I will stand by our record of delivering universal pre-k, a $15 minimum wage, and $10 million in immigrant legal defense funding any day.

I will continue to work in Albany, I will continue to fight for the common good of all New Yorkers, and I will continue to add to the IDC’s track record of passing progressive legislation.

So let’s leave the governing to me, and I’ll leave the rise and resisting to you.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In response to a correction request made by Sen. Klein, The Press published a clarification in the Sept. 28 issue with the senator’s claims he did talk to Republicans about a health care bill, although the newspaper quoted an advocate for the bill who claimed otherwise Sept. 21. 

The editorial mentioned here, which appeared on the Opinion page Sept. 28, was planned to run the same week as the original story on Sept. 21, but moved to Sept. 28 because of scheduling. It was planned well before the senator submitted any correction request, and The Press has never “retaliated” over any correction requests — especially since we openly solicit such requests on A2 each week, and published the clarification about the Sept. 21 story promptly the following week.

Jeffrey Klein,