A Single Payer System in New York State

The ravages of COVID-19 made the need for universal access to care through a single-payer system more urgent than ever. And now, we are facing multiple healthcare crises as we recover from the pandemic. Record numbers of New Yorkers are poised to lose Medicaid coverage as the federal government ceases its pandemic-era Medicaid expansion. The New York Health Act has broad support across the state. New York's labor movement can lead the way in making universal, comprehensive health coverage a reality for every New Yorker.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chair of the Senate Health Committee representing the Bronx and Assembly Member Amy Paulin, Chair of the Assembly Health Committee representing parts of Westchester, sponsor the NY Health Act (A.6058/S.5474). View the text of the NY Health Act here. The bill would bring a single-payer, Medicare for All system to New York, which would guarantee healthcare for every New Yorker. With this plan, the commercial insurance system would be replaced with a single-payer health plan, just as Medicare provides care to Americans 65 and older or those with disabilities.

In July 2023, NYSNA nurses joined union colleagues from CIR-SEIU, bill sponsors State Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Member Amy Paulin, and community allies from Make the Road New York and Physicians for a National Health Program to celebrate the reintroduction of the New York Health Act (NYHA)! Nurses know firsthand the cruelty of our current healthcare system and have been leaders in the movement for universal healthcare.

NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN, spoke about her own experience as a nurse of over 35 years at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn: “I have seen patients suffer because they didn’t have health insurance, so they didn’t get the care that they needed. I have also seen patients who have health insurance suffer because they could not afford the cost of the high deductibles and co-pays, so they also didn’t get the care that they needed. It’s time to pass the New York Health Act!”

The NYHA would ensure comprehensive universal healthcare for all New Yorkers including primary, preventive, and specialty care; hospitalization; mental health; substance use treatment; reproductive health; dental, vision, and hearing; long-term care; prescription drugs and medical supplies. This level of coverage is unprecedented in the United States but exists in many countries around the world and is achievable here if we fight for it.

Nurses will continue to advocate for all patients, and that means supporting a healthcare system that does not discriminate based on income. Today the movement for universal healthcare was reinvigorated with nurses ready to lead until the New York Health Act becomes law in New York!

In 2024, NYSNA, our broad coalition of supporters, and the bill’s legislative leaders are gearing up to push NYHA across the finish line. “In the richest country in the world, we must ensure every New Yorker has guaranteed healthcare and put patients before profits,” says Senator Rivera. The New York Health is “the only policy that will guarantee care for all New Yorkers and save our state money,” says NYSNA Central Regional Director Cathy Dawson, RN. “It’s a matter of life and death.

Check out the Single Payer Committee newsletter to learn about the latest news and actions for healthcare for all.

Want to help us achieve more? Email the NYSNA Single Payer Committee at healthjustice4all@nysna.org or sign up here.