House Democrats on the Codes Committee voted along party lines on Tuesday to advance New York’s health care law to establish a nationwide single-payer health care system. the state, but not without challenges from Republicans.
Democrats on the 21-member committee, excluding Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz of Brighton Beach, voted to send the measure to the Ways and Means Committee which is due to meet at noon Wednesday.
Members of the Republican Assembly voted unanimously against the bill, citing concerns about increased costs to taxpayers.
The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Rick Gottfried and Upper House Senator Gustavo Rivera, outlines the administrative structure, payment methods, coordination of care and negotiations with health care providers for a single-payer healthcare system for all state residents. The measure would also create the New York Health Trust Fund from various state and federal sources to fund the plan.
Before committee members vote on Tuesday, Assemblyman Angelo Morinello asked about State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s analysis last week of the record $220.5 billion 2022 budget- 2023, where he urged caution about the state’s ability to sustain this level of spending with the higher level of spending than last year. projected tax revenues and one-time federal pandemic assistance.
“Has that been taken into consideration? asked Morinello.
He criticized Democrats for advancing a taxpayer-funded plan following questions from the Comptroller about an unsustainable budget going forward.
“That hasn’t been looked at with this bill, but it’s something we’re going to look at,” a staff member from the bill sponsor’s health team said at the meeting. “I’m sure the ways and means committee will also analyze that.”
The ways and means committee will consider the potential financial impact of the bill statewide.
“That’s where those questions would presumably be addressed,” replied Jeffrey Dinowitz, chairman of the codes commission.
The health care law is estimated to net $11.4 billion in savings by eliminating insurance company profits and reducing administrative and prescription drug costs, according to a pamphlet on the bill from the office of the co-sponsor of Senator Robert Jackson.
Morinello, a Republican from Niagara Falls, was the only member of the codes committee on Tuesday to challenge Democrats to advance the measure. He also probed the date the bill’s projected cost savings analysis was conducted.
The latest financial estimates for the Health Act have been made over the past two or three years, the health team staff member told the meeting.
Morinello also challenged his colleagues over the compensation of union health care workers and the compensation of organized workers for the freebies they provided in exchange for better health benefits over the years.
“The [Health Act] would allow unions to focus on negotiating better wages and they could since they would no longer have to focus on negotiating health benefits under this bill,” the aide replied. sponsor’s health team, adding that the bill does not provide details on compensation for unionized workers.
“…The bill would allow collective bargaining to better focus its efforts for its members,” she said.
Other assembly members and staffers did not have an answer on conducting an analysis to estimate the average amount each union health care worker in New York City has spent to get better benefits.
Employers would be required to pay at least 80% of payroll tax under the Health Act, but a higher percentage can be negotiated. Residents of the state who are self-employed would be required to pay the full insurance premium.
The Realities of Single Payer coalition, made up of 164 organizations in favor of a mix of private and government-funded health insurance, released a statement ahead of Tuesday’s codes committee meeting urging lawmakers to oppose the health law.
“The New York Health Act — legislation to impose an Albany-run single-payer plan on every New Yorker — has been a bad idea since it was introduced 30 years ago,” members of Realities of Single Payer said. “…Instead of forcing more than 18 million New Yorkers into an untested system that will triple their taxes, lawmakers should focus on covering the remaining adults who don’t have health insurance and making the more affordable coverage for all.”
The coalition argued that the number of uninsured people in the state had fallen by less than 5%, noting the state’s universal health care policies for people aged 65 and over, children up to at 19 and pregnant women and new mothers.
More than a million New Yorkers do not have health insurance.
The Health Act has sat on the Senate Health Committee since January 5.
The single-payer public health care system would cover home and facility care, including palliative care.
Lawmakers have introduced and attempted to pass a version of New York’s health care law for more than two decades.