Thank you, Anton Media Group, for Steve Mosco’s editorial on health care—as you say, it is for good reason most Americans consider health care as The most important issue of 2017. Health care spending as a percentage of the GDP reached 17.9 percent in 2016. In comparison, corporate tax rates have hovered in the one to three percent of GDP range since 1970. While congress seems unable to come to grips with this and focuses on policies that will let us buy less insurance (increased personal risk)/pay more out of pocket, other developed nations are able to take care of their entire populations at far lower per capita cost and with better overall outcomes. The moral case for covering everyone in a health care system has received plenty of attention as an idea from “the left;” however, these statistics/comparisons suggest another reason for change.
We are very much in support of the New York Health Act (NYHA)—universal, comprehensive, cost-effective—improved Medicare for All New Yorkers (www.NYHCampaign.org). The premise behind the NYHA is to include all New York State doctors and New York State residents in a single plan that is administered by New York State instead of a grossly inefficient patchwork of private insurance and other assorted payers. There would be no more primary and secondary insurance, no more exclusive provider networks, and billing would be from the service provider to New York State.
“How would we pay for this?” is an often asked question, but a better place to start is by examining how we currently pay. Most people obtain insurance through work. Typically, the employer pays a percentage and the employee pays a percentage of the premium. The NYHA would replace this with a progressive payroll tax. Some would say that they don’t want to pay more taxes, but a more appropriate way to look at this is to consider whether it is better to pay a tax than a premium. If the tax includes two percent for administration (think traditional Medicare) and the premium includes 15-20 percent for administration (think for-profit insurance), we’ll choose the tax.
The NYHA has passed the NY Assembly overwhelmingly for the last three years, but, mirroring Washington, it has been treated as a partisan issue in Albany and is, therefore, one vote shy of the majority needed to pass in the NY Senate. The Senate Democrats, including the Independent Democratic Caucus (IDC), are on board with the NYHA, but no GOP Senators (including our seven LI GOP Senators) have signed on. Furthermore, Senator Kemp Hannon, chair of the Health Committee, won’t release the bill to the floor. Health care is nonpartisan. It’s time for bipartisan support and an affirming vote.
—Bruce and Nikki Willard