Green Party of Onondaga County, March 30, 2019
The Green Party of Onondaga County supports the New York Health Act (A6058/S5474) because it will guarantee all medically necessary services to every resident, including vision, dental, hearing, reproductive health, drug treatment, mental health, and long-term care.
The Green Party of Onondaga County currently has 1,045 enrolled members. Green candidates have received countywide votes of between about 5,000 and 10,000 in recent elections.
Because the NY Health Act provides medical services through public provision and free to patients at the point of delivery, it removes the financial barriers to healthcare that make so many New Yorkers forgo health care in order to pay for rent, food, utilities, and other basic needs.
The need for this kind of universal healthcare plan has been underscored over the last year by the covid pandemic, which has hit hardest among low-income people and low-wage workers in essential industries who are disproportionately Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Asian.
The Green Party of Onondaga County urges the adoption of the NY Health Act as a public safety and public health measure as well as the most economically efficient way to deliver health care to all who need it.
The NY Health Act saves New Yorkers money because it eliminates the wasteful and burdensome paperwork and complexity associated with the billing, contesting of services, and other administrative expenses of navigating multiple private and public health insurance programs. A 2018 RAND study of the NY Health Act found that New Yorkers will pay less than they do now for underinsured healthcare to get comprehensive health services for all.
While the NY Health Act leaves to details of a progressive tax structure to pay for it to the governor to propose in the implementation phase, a 2015 study by Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, modeled a reasonable progressive tax structure to pay for the NY Health Act plan in which 98% of New Yorkers would pay less for health care than they do now.
The need for the universal healthcare plan that would be provided by the NY Health Act is acute in our county, particularly in low-income communities of color. Data from December 2019 for Onondaga County, which encompasses the Syracuse metropolitan area, showed that 14% of residents in white communities were in collections because of medical expenses, while 41% of people in communities of color were in collections.
Members of the Green Party of Onondaga County can personally testify to these concerns.
Serena “Rahzie” Seals, Black Lives Matter organizer and Green candidate for city council in 2017: “I’ve gone through frequent periods without insurance and even when I was insured, I wasn’t able to afford preventative care. I suffer from dizzy spells and allergic reactions. At times, I have passed out and had to go to the emergency room. As a result, I have thousands of dollars in medical debt which have negatively impacted my credit score. I also suffer from an enlarged heart, a condition that runs in my family. My sister Michelle had a similar condition and passed away in 2004. I support the New York Health Act because it would remove the affordability barrier to health care.”
Mary Cregan, Green Party State Committee Member: “I have a chronic health condition called Ehlers Danlos, a bone disorder, that requires frequent visits to specialists. I stayed in a job I did not like, located far from my home for many years, so that I could have healthcare benefits. I switched jobs in order to work much closer to home but my employer did not offer health insurance, which meant that I had to pay all my bills out of pocket. I support the New York Health Act because coverage shouldn’t be tied to where we work. Everyone deserves healthcare.”
Marianna Kaufman, primary care doctor: “I spend an unhealthy amount of time dealing with insurance company obstruction. Hours of office time that could be better spent with patients goes to phone calls and paperwork fighting insurance denials. Patients often go without medications they need, or delay getting exams and diagnostic tests that could detect diseases like cancer in the earliest stages. Health insurance companies add no value to our health care system. That’s why I support the effort to pass universal single-payer healthcare without financial obstacles to care.”
Ray Trudell, a retired Steelworker and former officer in his local union: “The union has had to take concessions on wages and other benefits in order to keep their health care coverage, which was still was costly to workers with premium, co-pays, and deductibles. If you’re making $14 or $15 an hour, how can you afford a $4,000 deductible? We need to take health care off the bargaining table. It’s a humanitarian issue. Heath care should be a civil right, not something you get only if you can afford it.”
Howie Hawkins, retired Teamster: “I recently retired. My union’s health and pension fund offers an Excellus Medicare supplemental plan for retirees for services not covered by Medicare at $495 a month. As a Medicare recipient, I would be paying nearly half of my pension for that health coverage. I didn’t enroll because I can’t afford it. I support the New York Health Act because I would be able to have medical services I need covered that Medicare does not cover.”
We urge you to do all you can to get the New York Health Act adopted this year.
Chair, Green Party of Onondaga County