COVID-19 and the economic crisis have thrown the dysfunctionality and injustice of our fragmented health care system into stark relief.
Hospitals are struggling to supply front-line workers with protective equipment; patients lay awake in intensive-care units wondering whether the treatment they are receiving will bankrupt them; structural inequalities amplify, ravaging low-income communities and communities of color; and hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are losing their jobs and insurance just when universal coverage is most needed as a moral right and as a matter of public health.
Even before the crisis, millions of New Yorkers were uninsured or underinsured, rural and public hospitals were struggling to survive, and local governments were being crushed under the weight of rising health care costs.
We can and must do better.
The New York Health Act is a state-level, single-payer health care bill that would guarantee comprehensive health care to every New Yorker, regardless of age, income or employment, with no premiums, copays or deductibles — and with no networks, so everyone has their choice of doctor and hospital.
The program would be paid for progressively, with the vast majority of New Yorkers paying less than they do now. In fact, multiple studies have shown that the bill would save the state billions of dollars each year. It would also save on property taxes — currently, 22 percent in Putnam and 38 percent in Dutchess County go toward Medicaid.
The act has already passed the Assembly four times and is one vote shy of majority support in the Senate. New York could pass the bill this year if we put enough pressure on our elected leaders to summon the political courage to fix this broken system.
Jeff Mikkelson, Cold Spring