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Advocate says it would save village $280,000 annually
Jeff Mikkelson feels 30 years is enough. The New York Health Act, which proposes a retooling of how health care is provided in the state, was introduced in the state Legislature in 1992 but has never garnered the support needed for passage.
But the Cold Spring resident, addressing the Village Board during its meeting on Wednesday (Jan. 26), said the bill “has picked up a lot of steam.”
“Last year it was introduced with majority support for the first time in both the Assembly and the Senate,” he said. While it didn’t come up for a vote in 2021, “we have an excellent chance of passing it this year.”
Mikkelson, who is a co-founder of Hudson Valley Demands New York Health, wants the village to pass a resolution in support of the bill, an action he said has been taken by 22 municipalities, including Philipstown.
Before commenting on the bill, Mikkelson pointed to a 2018 study that showed half of New York residents have skipped or delayed medical treatment because of the cost. Another study that appeared in 2020 in The Lancet estimated a single-payer health care system would save 68,000 lives annually in the U.S. and a third study, from 2019, found that 67 percent of bankruptcies were tied to high medical bills or time lost from work.
“These things are unheard of in the rest of the industrialized world,” Mikkelson said.
If enacted, the bill would finance health care through a combination of federal funds that the state receives for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, along with a progressively graduated tax on income from wages and investments.
“The first $25,000 of income would be exempt from the tax, and for seniors the first $50,000 is exempt,” Mikkelson said. Other tax brackets would be steeply progressive, with the highest earners paying the most.
Mikkelson estimated the savings for local government would be $280,000 for Cold Spring, $800,000 for Philipstown, $1.6 million for the Haldane school district and $21 million for Putnam County.
“Every time a municipality passes a resolution like the one I’m asking you to consider, it makes that outcome more likely,” he said.
Trustee Joe Curto said he agreed with the premise of the bill “1,000 percent,” describing the health care system as “a mess.” But, he added: “I’m not sure, at this point, that is the solution. It’s pretty complicated, a complete revamping of the state economy and tax code.”
The three members of the board (Mayor Kathleen Foley and Trustee Cathryn Fadde were absent) declined to immediately take up the resolution.
“It’s a lot to take in,” said Trustee Tweeps Phillips Woods. “We will digest the information you’ve given us, talk about it, and figure out what the next steps will be.”