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Gov. Andrew Cuomo should support new health act
Letter to the Editor by Howie Hawkins
New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last September that a state single-payer public health plan would be a “good idea.” But he said nothing about it in his State of the State address and budget messages.
A state “Medicare for All” system would save $2.7 billion to insure state employees and retirees, which would take a big bite out of the $4.4 billion deficit the state faces.
The New York Health Act would provide universal health care for all New Yorkers for all medically necessary services with no out-of-pocket expenses (including premiums, copays and deductibles).
It has passed the assembly twice and is one vote short of passage in the senate.
The single public payer would be funded by progressive taxes on wage and salary payrolls and on capital gains, dividends and interest, as well as federal funds now received by New York for Medicare, Medicaid, Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus.
Ninety-eight percent of New Yorkers would pay less for health care. The state’s economy would save $45 billion annually. The savings would come from the reduced administrative costs of a single-payer system and the curbing of monopoly profiteering by drug and medical device companies.
Economist Gerald Friedman has done a cost analysis and revenue proposalbased on the progressive taxation provisions of the bill. Friedman finds that the employer payroll tax would average 8 percent of payroll.
Using that 8 percent of payroll compared to the current cost of health insurance for public employees, New York state would save $2.7 billion, the city of Syracuse would save $80 million a year ($42 million for city employees, $38 million for school employees) and Onondaga County would save $152 million a year ($54 for county employees, $98 million from Medicaid).
Private businesses will also benefit. Employers spend a median of 12.8 percent of payroll on health insurance in New York state. By lowering the burden of employee health care on business to 8 percent of payroll, the New York Health Act would make businesses in New York more competitive by cutting the top driver of the growing costs of doing business in New York.
The New York Health Act will lower the costs of government and doing business. Since Cuomo agrees that single payer is a “good idea,” he should incorporate it into his legislative and budget agenda.
Howie Hawkins of Syracuse was the Green Party candidate for governor in 2014.