Healthcare & New York
Members of many NYPAN chapters are working together in support of the NY Health Act. This legislation is a single-payer healthcare bill that would provide truly comprehensive healthcare – medical, dental, optical, hearing, mental health and prescription drugs – to every resident of the state, regardless of their immigration status, pre-existing conditions, sexual orientation, age, employment status or anything else. Services would be financed using a progressive statewide tax, and everyone would pay according to their ability to pay. Currently, many don’t get regular care, and then high costs for emergency care and Medicaid fall to cash-strapped local governments. Also, currently, everyone pays more than necessary in order to cover large profits for insurance companies and their executives. A “Medicare for All” system would save New York billions of dollars per year, and also allow residents to change jobs or start their own businesses more easily because insurance would not be tied to employment.
Actions in 2017
In the Spring of 2017, four NYPAN chapters and two DSA working groups formed a coalition to put pressure on NY State Senator Simcha Felder. Felder was the lone “Democrat” who did not sponsor the NYHA. Throughout the spring and summer of 2017, committee members canvassed and postered in his district, handing out and posting thousands of flyers. In addition, we took out ads in the Torah Times, in an attempt to influence the rabbis who are believed to control Felder. And at the end of the summer, a noisy sit-in was staged at Felder’s office and put on Facebook.
Later in 2017, a small group of key healthcare activists met for a downstate strategy meeting with Katie Robbins, Executive Director of the Metro Chapter of PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Program). We have been working closely with this organization for many months. Together, we identified roughly 60 groups working for the NYHA in downstate alone. On August 12th, we organized a large strategy meeting for these groups, at which we identified common strategies and worked to establish areas where we could work together. Point people for each geographic area were assigned to coordinate future work and to help new groups and individuals link with existing groups in their areas. A follow-up meeting took place in the winter, and more are planned.
Plans for 2018
The 2017 legislature closed without the NY Health Act coming to the floor for a vote in the state Senate. This means that we will start over in 2018: the Act should pass the state Assembly again quite easily, and is likely to stall again in the state Senate. Fortunately, Trump’s behavior in Washington has shaken many in New York, and the popular demand for “Medicare for All” is rising, along with an understanding of how our own Democratic state Senators are enabling Republicans and holding this progressive legislation out of reach. IDC senators who hope to keep their seats should be motivated to support the NYHA more strongly. Also, several special elections must be called and could lead to an outright Democratic majority in the state Senate. In the meantime, we continue to broaden our scope to include several kinds of base-building in order to reach as many people as possible. We are encouraging everyone to get involved:
- Talk to people: the “grapevine” is still a wonderful way to let people know about what a single payer system can do for them.
- Talk to groups: endorsements from groups are good, too, from any group you belong to! They can also endorse on the Campaign for NY Health website.
- Talk to businesses: no matter what size, business endorsements help a LOT. There is no money involved and no commitment. They can just add their name as supporters of the Act at the Campaign for NY Health website.
- Talk to doctors: because of their status, endorsements by doctors are particularly important. They can sign up on the PNHP website (Physicians for a National Health Program).
- Talk to public officials: don’t forget about talking to your elected officials at both the state and local level, including your City Council member and members of the local Community Board.
- Host a party: It’s easy, and it’s a great way to let more people know about single payer healthcare. The Campaign for NY Health will provide a speaker and other assistance.
- Host a public event: getting a larger group together is similar to a party but can bring in more people. All you need is a public space and to put out the word. The campaign will provide one or more speakers, possibly including even Senator Rivera or Assemblyman Gottfried if the event is public enough! Contact us here.
- Approach schools: School administrators and PTA groups can be approached, with the goal of presenting to large groups of staff and parents, and we’ll be happy to help with that, too!
- Post flyers and cards: put up the summary in your building, church, synagogue or workplace. Collect signatures from people on the postcards!
- Write letters to the Editor: join our LTE team here and get emails you can modify and send to your local newspaper or other media outlets.
If you’d like to work for single payer, please contact Ting Barrow of UPA, 347 961-0231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.