NY is one senate vote away from passing Single Payer Health Care

The New York Health Act passed the NY assembly this year, just as it has the past two years. The NYHA would establish a single-payer universal health-care system in New York, covering all New York residents. Every New York resident would be eligible to enroll, regardless of immigration status, age, income, wealth, employment, or other status. Coverage would include all services currently required by the state’s insurance laws and offered in the health-care plans offered to state public employees.

The plan would be funded through a progressive payroll tax/deduction that would replace health-insurance premiums for most employees. The tax would be graduated with surcharges for high-income New Yorkers. NYHA would serve as a base insurance plan for all New Yorkers and private insurance would only be available for additional services. Long term care isn’t covered initially, but the bill required a commission to propose a plan for LTC within two years.

The bill is sitting in committee in the NY senate with 31 co-sponsors. One more co-sponsor and the bill will have a majority of the Senate backing it. The entire Democratic and IDC caucus is sponsoring it, except for Simcha Felder.

Felder is a Democrat but caucuses with Republicans, largely because they redirect enormous amounts of cash to his district (go figure). Felder is getting flack from several sources for his stance:

For two weeks, the Voice called Felder’s office at least a dozen times, and each time his staff insisted they would “get back to us” if we left our number. We decided to drive up I-87 to Albany and find Felder ourselves, to try to get some sort of comment — to find out whether he was undecided, opposed, or in favor. Anything on the record would have been appreciated. — The Village Voice

The Voice was not successful in getting Felder to respond.

State Senator Simcha Felder, who was elected as a Democrat but caucuses with Republicans, currently faces enormous pressure to endorse the bill. Felder did himself no favors by thrusting himself into the spotlight this week when he called on the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference to rejoin the mainline Democrats —without committing to come back to the main Democratic faction himself. Felder ducked the Village Voice in person earlier this week in Albany, making use of the skills he honed in the City Council to avoid making hard or controversial decisions. — Gothamist

broad coalition of progressive organizations is pressuring Felder and moderate Republican senators who haven’t yet come out in favor of NYHA. The coalition includes several unions, dozens of community and faith organization, the Working Families Party, the Green Party and several towns and localities.

Last Friday, progressive organizations including Our Revolution began a “Call your Senator” campaign which resulted in thousands of calls to state senators to bring the last vote on-board for a majority. You can find your senator and their contact information here. The Campaign for NY Health has a sample script you can use for your call.

You can sign a petition to the Senate here.

Additional info on NYHA: