Universal health care right now


To the editor:

(re: “We’re still waiting for universal health care,” May 16)

I applaud The Riverdale Press editorial supporting the urgency of the New York Health Act, first because it goes forcefully beyond its Feb. 17 opinion, citing state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi’s post-election caution on a bill key to her campaign victory. I agree with this week’s stand that we must forgo a healthy patience so that all New Yorkers can be healthy patients.

The Riverdale Press has been a rare voice in the media, giving the New York Health Act coverage at all stages of the fight for passage. Its reporting is all the more important because so few New Yorkers even know about the bill, which will provide universal, comprehensive affordable health care at a time when — with high co-pays, prohibitive networks, huge deductibles — average families in our state pay more for inadequate coverage than they do for food or rent.

Since her post-election remarks, Sen. Biaggi has spoken in favor of the bill at numerous public forums in her district. Even before she was sworn in, she was the only state senator to cite her endorsement at the city council hearings on Dec. 8 of last year. And she is an official sponsor of this year’s senate bill.

Vetted by the centrist Rand Corp. last summer, the bill has verified all the econometrics. And the issue of federal waivers (which Sen. Biaggi mentioned in her post-election pullback) is a red herring posed by opponents who want to scare New Yorkers.

No one will lose Medicare or Medicaid under the NYHA. Those services can be provided without a waiver, and legally, in the same way as Medicare Advantage plans are legal now. The NYHA will be an improved Medicare for all state residents with prescriptions, vision, dental, hearing, mental health, substance abuse treatment, reproductive care and long-term care.

Readers can amplify The Press’ endorsement by also pushing for the bill (A.5248, S.3577). Write or call Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and urge him to encourage Speaker Carl Heastie to bring the bill for a vote in the Assembly this year. That would put the Assembly on the record for the fifth year in a row with an overwhelming favorable vote.

Together, our local paper and our local constituents can bring this necessary legislation to fruition so that health care can be recognized as the human right it is.

Barbara Estrin

Barbara Estrin,