Greens say NY Health Act is necessary, but not sufficient, for universal health care
The Green Party ticket is the only gubernatorial slate committed to enacting the proposed NY Health Act for universal state health insurance. The Green ticket said today that New York should also socialize health care delivery as well as insurance. The Green candidates said that the NY Health Act should only be the first step in providing quality and cost-efficient health care to all New York residents.
The Green candidates blasted Governor Hochul and Democratic leadership in both houses for failing to advance the NY Health Act as well as the End Medical Debt bill out of committee in the last session. The End Medical Debt bill would bar the garnishment of pay as well as liens against primary residences to force payment of medical debt. Over half of New Yorkers have outstanding medical debt, which is the number one cause of personal bankruptcy.
They called on Hochul to sign the bill to regulate facilities fees that passed the legislature. Facilities fees are additional charges to patients by clinics that are not owned by their doctor. The Green candidates also called for passage of the Fair Pay for Home Health Aides legislation, which would set a minimum wage for home health aides that is 50% higher than the state minimum wage.
“These partial reforms are good, but not enough. Replacing private insurers with a single public payer is necessary but not sufficient. Health insurance companies and Wall Street venture capital and private equity are buying up doctors, clinics, hospices, nursing homes, urgent care and dialysis clinics, imaging facilities, ambulance companies, and home care agencies. These for-profit middlemen subordinate care to profit. In order to provide universal quality health care to all New Yorkers, we need a community-controlled state health service where communities, not corporations, own our healthcare facilities,” said Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor.
“The corporate takeover of healthcare has pushed out most self-employed doctors, free-standing hospitals, and non-profit healthcare organizations. Today most doctors are employees of large organizations. Hospitals outsource many of their services to for-profit corporations. A state health insurance system by itself will just funnel public money to corporate owners rather than to the doctors and facilities that care for patients. A state health insurance system alone will continue to delegate control of care to profit-seeking middlemen with an interest in denying care to increase profits. The whole health care system now needs to be publicly owned and democratically accountable through elected local health boards," said Gloria Mattera, the Green Party candidate for Lt. Governor who works with low income immigrant children and families in the New York City public hospital system.
The Green Party candidates pointed to recent studies and reports to support their case that privatized health care is more expensive and provides less care than public systems do.
A report from the inspector general’s office of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department released in April found that private Medicare Advantage plans issue tens of millions of denials each year for treatment authorizations and reimbursements. Private health insurers now receive a majority of their revenues from the federal government through the privatization of Medicare and Medicaid plans into corporate managed-care plans like Medicare Advantage. Meanwhile in the private sector, for the average employer-provided family plan, private insurers increased their premiums by 47% and their deductibles by 68% between 2011 and 2021.
Federal policy under both the Trump and Biden administrations has pushed for the privatization of Medicaid and Medicare plans. Liz Fowler is an insurance executive who was the primary author of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act that provides public subsidies for private insurance. She was appointed by President Biden as Director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. Fowler says her goal is to have all Medicare beneficiaries in private Medicare Advantage plans by 2030.
250,000 retired New York City workers are in the middle of a contentious battle over whether they will be forcibly switched from traditional Medicare to a privatized Medicare Advantage plan.
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is also being privatized. The VHA is a public health service that owns its health care facilities and is staffed by health care providers who are public employees. Privatization began under President Obama and has continued under Trump and Biden, with care increasingly outsourced to private providers. Biden’s Secretary for Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, issued a 10-year plan in March that would close many VHA direct care facilities, including the VA hospitals in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Hudson Valley. The US Senate has rejected those plans for now.
Studies have shown that a state health insurance plan in the NY Health Act would cost less for over 90% of New Yorkers. The Green Party candidates noted that a 2002 California study, the only study to date comparing a state health service system to state single-payer insurance systems, found that a health service would cost even less.
As the Green Party candidate for President in 2020, Hawkins campaigned for a community-controlled national health service. He said that a community-controlled state health service could set an exemplary model for the nation.
Doctors who have been in the national leadership of the movement for a single-payer national health insurance program for decades came out last spring for a national health service. In a March 31 article in The Nation, they argued that the corporatization of health care delivery means that “Medicare for All Is Not Enough."