Move forward on health care


To the editor:

(re: “Universal health care finally on horizon?” Feb. 11)

Thank you, Riverdale Press, for your longstanding coverage of the New York Health Act. And thanks to reporter Ethan Stark-Miller for his recent story.

What’s the largest challenge facing the New York Health Act? Under-reporting by the media. Too few people appreciate how much this legislation will benefit them and their families.

Simply stated, the New York Health Act is both more cost-effective (saving us billions of dollars) and more comprehensive than any existing health care plan — public or private — anywhere in New York state.

Our borough was the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the spring, and the epicenter of the financial crisis now. We need this life-saving legislation to stimulate our economy and create 200,000 jobs as soon as possible.

Yes, there are those who wish merely to tweak the current system. Among them, the Healthcare Association of New York State, an advocacy group for hospital behemoths that regularly tops the lists for largesse in lobbying and campaign contributions.

These private hospitals want to maintain the status quo — getting public funding and regulation from Albany to ensure they can provide hefty executive salaries, rationed admissions, and even empty beds, even at the peak of a pandemic.

Protecting the wealthy and white from the rest of the state, New York City private hospitals are far more racially segregated than academic medical centers elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Albany starves their public sector counterparts, periodically withholding hundreds of millions of federal dollars, leaving them understaffed and undersupplied.

Similarly, for-profit insurance is hardly “private,” when more than 60 percent of its revenue (its most profitable revenue) comes from our tax dollars — and private insurance largely ignores fraud.

The New York Health Act would eliminate rent-seeking from private hospitals and private insurance, along with the systemic racism of segregating patients by wealth. It will give us patients true choice: All doctors and hospitals will be “in network,” and doctors — with patients — will determine the care you get, not insurance bureaucrats with no medical training.

All primary and specialty care, both in-patient and out-patient, vision, hearing, dental, therapy at all levels — physical, mental and behavioral — and long-term care will all be covered, with no co-pays, deductibles or premiums. Some 90 percent of New Yorkers will pay less than they are paying now.

Even better, local municipalities, school districts and counties will see 20 percent decreases in their budgets. That’s because for-profit health insurance adds $1 trillion per year to U.S. health care costs, wasting a half-trillion that doesn’t pay for health care, only for denying care to ensure profits.

Call or write Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and state senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Ask them to bring this legislation to the floor this spring.

Barbara Estrin

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Barbara Estrin,