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Universal Health-Care Bill Passes Assembly

Health-insurance plans have asked the state of New York for a 17-percent rate hike. (Images Money/Flickr)
Health-insurance plans have asked the state of New York for a 17-percent rate hike. (Images Money/Flickr)
June 3, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A bill to provide health-care coverage to every New Yorker has passed in the state Assembly by an overwhelming majority.

Health-care costs continue to rise despite the federal Affordable Care Act, and almost 2 million New Yorkers still lack health insurance. The New York Health Act would provide complete health care without deductibles, co-pays or provider networks.

Dr. Oliver Fein, who chairs the New York Metro Chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program, said it would make the state a leader in providing health-care coverage, "offering a pathway to universal coverage without costing more and guaranteeing access to health care for everyone."

Assembly Health Committee chair Dick Gottfried, D-Manhattan, lead sponsor of the bill, said the publicly funded system could save New Yorkers $45 billion a year.

According to Fein, the profits and administrative costs of the private insurance industry now consume from 20 percent to 30 percent of every health-care dollar.

"What you're measuring in administrative costs is not merely the insurance company costs," he said, "but also the costs within hospitals, which have to maintain billing departments."

Last year, 40 percent of New Yorkers reported having to cut down on other expenses to be able to afford medical care. New York's health-insurance plans are asking the state for a 17 percent rate increase for next year.

Fein said eliminating the costs of private insurance would make it possible to extend coverage to those who now have no insurance.

"We could do it without actually increasing the overall costs to the system," he said, "so there would be no necessity to raise premium rates."

The bill has the support of more than 20 state senators, but Fein said he believes the current leadership is unlikely to bring the bill to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

Details of the bill are online at assembly.state.ny.us.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY