Hawkins Supports Universal Coverage with Single-Payer New York Health Act

Only Candidate for Governor Committed to Signing NY Health Act

Slams Insurance Industry and Business Council for Spreading Misinformation

Syracuse NY – Green Party candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins, standing outside of health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield, announced that when elected Governor, he will sign into law the New York Health Act, making New York the first state in the nation to implement universal single payer healthcare.

“There’s only one way to cover everyone and save money, and that’s with the New York Health Act and Medicare for All. I am the only candidate running for governor who is committed signing the bill,” said Hawkins, a long time advocate for universal single-payer healthcare.

Hawkins slammed the Business Council, Blue Cross, and the health insurance industry for spreading misinformation about the New York Health Act: “They are scaring people with lies, on the radio and in mailers attacking candidates, claiming single payer healthcare and Medicare for all will end Medicare. In fact, NY Health Act will expand benefits to Medicare beneficiaries like myself because it will cover our vision, dental, hearing, and long-term care.”

“In addition, the NY Health Act will lower costs for Medicare beneficiaries by eliminating copays, deductibles, cost-sharing, and out-of-pocket fees for uncovered services. Those of us on Medicare will have better benefits at less cost to and still be able to have our choice of doctor and hospital. The New York Health Act will actually strengthen the Medicare program, and guarantee healthcare for everyone in our communities,” Hawkins said.

The New York Health Act will provide universal, comprehensive health care coverage and billions of dollars in savings for New York families, businesses, and local governments.  All New Yorkers would be covered for all medically necessary services, including primary, preventive, specialists, hospital, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug, and medical supply costs. The care provided under New York Health would be more comprehensive than plans offered by health insurance companies today. There would be no out-of-pocket costs as barriers to health care.

The New York Health Act will establish a trust fund that pools federal funding from Medicare, Medicaid, children’s health plans and other federal program. A progressive payroll tax on income and a progressive tax on unearned income from interest, dividends, and capital gains will also be paid into the fund.

“Health coverage is a life and death issue for me, my friends, and family,” Hawkins added. “I recently retired. My union’s health and pension fund offers an Excellus Medicare supplemental plan for retirees for services not covered by Medicare at $495 a month. As a Medicare recipient, I would be paying nearly half pension. I didn’t enroll because I can’t afford it.”

Hawkins was joined by Syracuse advocates who shared why they support the effort to pass and implement the New York Health Act.

“Healthcare is a human right, not a for profit commodity,” said Serena Rahzie Seals. ““I’ve gone through frequent periods without insurance and even when I was insured, I wasn’t able to afford preventative care. I suffer from dizzy spells and allergic reactions. At times, I have passed out and had to go to the emergency room. As a result, I have thousands of dollars in medical debt which have negatively impacted my credit score.”

“I also suffer from an enlarged heart, a condition that runs in my family. My sister Michelle had a similar condition and passed away in 2004. I support the New York Health Act because it would remove a structural barrier, insurance, to healthcare access and bring us closer to healthcare equity,” Seals added.

“I spend an unhealthy amount of time dealing with insurance company obstruction,” said primary care doctor Marianna Kaufman. “Hours of office time that could be better spent with patients goes to phone calls and paperwork fighting insurance denials. Patients often go without medications they need, or delay getting exams and diagnostic tests that could detect diseases like cancer in the earliest stages. Health insurance companies add no value to our health care system. That’s why I support the effort to pass universal single-payer healthcare without financial obstacles to care.”

Mary Cregan of Syracuse stated, “I have a chronic health condition called Ehlers Danlos, a bone disorder, that requires frequent visits to specialists. I stayed in a job I did not like, located far from my home for many years, so that I could have healthcare benefits. I recently switched jobs and work much closer to home but my current employer does not offer health insurance, which means that I have to pay all my bills out of pocket. I support the New York Health Act because coverage shouldn’t be tied to where we work. Everyone deserve healthcare.”

Ray Trudell, a retired Steelworker and former officer in his local union, described how in bargaining contracts, the union had to take concessions on wages and other benefits in order to keep their health care coverage, which was still was costly to workers with premium, co-pays, and deductibles. “If you making $14 or $15 an hour, how can you afford a $4,000 deductible? We need to take health care off the bargaining table. It’s a humanitarian issue. Heath care should be a civil right, not something you get only if you can afford it,” Trudell said.

In December 2017, the New York State Health Foundation commissioned the RAND Corporation to assess the savings, costs, and feasibility of the New York Health Act. Using conservative estimates, the RAND study establishes that New Yorkers would use more health care services under the new single-payer plan than under the current system, even as total health care spending would be slightly lower in 2022 growing to a savings of $15 billion annually by 2031 due to administrative efficiencies.

The study highlights that the majority of New Yorkers would pay less under the New York Health Plan. New Yorkers in the bottom 90% of household incomes would save an average of $2,800 per person annually. The savings for the overwhelming majority come from progressive taxation based on the ability to pay. In addition, premiums, deductibles, copays, out-of-pocket payments, and out-of-network charges would be eliminated.

The RAND study estimates that New York Health would lead to an estimated 2 percent net increase in employment – approximately 150,000 jobs in 2022 – due to increased disposable income for almost all New Yorkers and lower costs for employers.

A detailed study of the New York Health Act by Professor Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst showed tens of billions in savings by streamlining the administration of our healthcare system to a single-payer funding stream. Most of the savings is found in eliminating insurance company administrative cost and profits, and slashing the enormous administrative costs health care providers spend to deal with insurance companies. Another significant area of savings is due to negotiating better prices for drugs with the pharmaceutical companies and for medical devices with their manufacturers.

While it is funded through taxes based on ability to pay, the New York Health Act relieves tax burdens in other areas. For example, New York is one of the only states that requires counties to contribute to Medicaid. The New York Health Act will shift those costs from the county back to the state, eliminating the biggest unfunded mandate on county governments. Eliminating the local share of Medicaid will give counties the ability to lower property taxes, create an emergency surplus for economic downturns, rebuild infrastructure like failing roads and bridges, and fund other important programs.