Single-payer health plan passes Assembly this week

The Assembly passed a single-payer health care plan this week that would provide no-cost coverage to every New Yorker — with no out-of-pocket costs and no network restrictions.

Sound too good to be true? That’s probably because it is. The Democratic-controlled Assembly has previously passed the New York Health Act three times, but it got stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. 

Will the current political climate make a difference?

The universal health plan would cover every New York resident, regardless of wealth, income, age or health status. The bill (A.4738, Gottfried/S.4840. Rivera) was sponsored by Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried.

"The health care system is rigged against working people, and the Trump administration is working to make health care access even worse,” stated Gottfried. Gottfried stated “support is growing with the public and in the State Senate, with 30 co-sponsors including all the mainstream Democrats and Independent Democratic Conference. Assembly passage is an important step as we continue to build support for universal health care in the face of the Trump agenda."

How the plan would be paid for is, of course, is a big question — and political sticking point.

The publicly-funded coverage would include no network restrictions, deductibles or co-pays. Rather than the current structure of high premiums, co-pays and deductibles, funding would be based on a shared 80/20 employer/employee contribution system. Additionally, state funding would be combined with federal funds that are currently received for Medicare, Medicaid, and Child Health Plus to create the New York Health Trust Fund, according to bill sponsors. The state would also seek federal waivers that would allow New York to completely fold those programs into New York Health.

“The local share of Medicaid funding would be ended, offering major property tax relief for New Yorkers,” Gottfried stated.

A 2015 analysis from Gerald Friedman, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, showed potential savings of $45 billion in the first year.

An analysis by Avik Roy, president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a Texas think tank, refuted Friedman's assumed savings from lower administrative and drug costs and reduced fraud. According to Roy, the bill would require $226 billion in tax increases, quadrupling the state tax burden.

New York Health has the endorsement of numerous organizations, many of them health care providers such as the NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, NYS Nurses Association and Community Health Care Association of NYS. Also backing the bill are the Tompkins County Legislature, Working Families Party, Green Party, Citizen Action, Community Service Society and the League of Women Voters.

Political Roundup, a clearinghouse of announcements and developments in local politics, runs on Fridays in the Daily Messenger. To submit an item for consideration, email senior reporter Julie Sherwood at