Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace (D-Lancaster) announced that she helped pass the New York Health Act to establish a universal, single-payer health care system throughout the state (A.4738).

“When the health care of tens of thousands of Western New Yorkers is threatened by Congress, New York must step up and protect the health care of its citizens,” said Wallace. “This legislation will not only ensure full health care coverage for every resident, but we’ll be lifting significant burdens off businesses and property taxpayers.”

The New York Health Act would establish a statewide universal health care system that covers all residents regardless of income, age, employment or pre-existing condition. The plan would offer a full range of doctors and service providers, comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, maternity care, prescription drugs, laboratory testing, rehabilitative care and out-of-state care. It would also cover dental, vision and hearing care.

Currently, counties in New York are struggling to afford Medicaid. In Erie County, nearly 83 percent of taxes collected paid for its share of Medicaid in 2012. Erie County will pay an estimated $204 million into Medicaid in 2017.  The single-payer plan will offer significant
property tax relief by abolishing counties’ contributions to Medicaid, noted Wallace.

A state Department of Health report demonstrated that a single-payer system was the most cost-efficient of all plans when compared with private and employer-based insurance.[1] A study by a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst estimates that families, businesses and taxpayers would save $45 billion with the implementation of the New York Health Act, and that 200,000 jobs would be created.[2]

The coverage for all New Yorkers would be paid for through a progressive payroll tax contribution, with employers contributing 80 percent and employees 20 percent. Employers would save money by no longer being responsible for premiums and the administration of health plans. The universal system would be funded by revenue measures to be proposed by the governor and available federal funds. A trust fund would be created using
funds currently received from the federal government for Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Plus and the programs would be incorporated into New York Health.

“Health care coverage ought to be a basic right, but people are still being forced to choose between making ends meet and protecting their families’ health,” said Wallace. “That shouldn’t be the case in 2017, and this legislation would change that.”