Assembly Dems pass universal health coverage bill

Assembly Democrats offered their rejoinder this week to Republicans’ efforts in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act: a 15-year-old bill to establish universal, single-payer health insurance for all New Yorkers.

Their conference had passed the “New York Health Act” each of the last two years with no hope of the Republican-controlled Senate doing the same. On Tuesday, in the wake of a House Republican bill that opponents say would be disastrous for New Yorkers and the state budget, the Assembly rolled out the single-payer proposal again and approved it in a party-line vote of 94-46.

“Many Hudson Valley families are concerned with the high cost of living in our region,” Assemblyman Frank Skartados, D-Milton, said in a statement afterward. “The NY Health Act would ensure everyone has access to the medical care they need without expensive insurance premiums. It would end confusing doctor bills and ensure your wellness comes first.”

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, R-Deerpark, denounced the plan as “socialist healthcare” devised by New York City “radicals.” 

“Our taxes continue to skyrocket, our business climate is pathetic, yet New York City liberals waste time on this useless bill that will almost certainly never pass the Senate,” Brabenec said in a press release. “This is political grandstanding at its best, which mandates outrageous tax increases on every citizen and virtually eliminates the private health insurance industry statewide. The solution to healthcare starts with providing quality jobs for our residents and empowering our business leaders to invest in employees through benefits and health coverage.”

He was a “no” vote.

The program would combine federal funding the state already receives for Medicaid and other programs and Child Health Plus into a single trust fund. Its provisions include eliminating the counties’ Medicaid contributions, something Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, has proposed doing through the House GOP’s repeal-and-replace bill.


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