Election results boost prospects for universal, single-payer healthcare in New York State

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 9, 2018
Contact: Katie Robbins, katie@nyhcampaign.org, 917.657.4663

New York, NY - As Democrats secured a comfortable majority in the state Senate this week, advocates for universal, guaranteed healthcare are energized in support of a single-payer healthcare system in the 2019 legislative session. In recent years, the Campaign for New York Health has rallied a broad coalition of nurses, doctors, patients, unions, people with disabilities, and seniors behind the New York Health Act (A4738 / S4840). Through increased public pressure, the bill has easily passed the Assembly and increased support in the outgoing Senate to nearly a majority.

This year, the issue entered the electoral arena during the primary when the challengers who successfully ousted the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference all pledged to co-sponsor the New York Health Act. In addition, Julia Salazar defeated long-time Senator Martin Dilan with a primary campaign that included the New York Health Act as a key plank.

After the general election on Tuesday, at least five of the newly elected state Senators also championed New York Health, including James Gaughran (Long Island), Andrew Gounardes (South Brooklyn), Rachel May (Syracuse), Jen Metzger (Hudson Valley), and Kevin Thomas (Long Island). If support among incumbents continues to hold, advocates believe they will start the session with a strong majority in support for the legislation in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Not only did the incoming class of Democratic Senators support the New York Health Act, the majority of the candidates who won their races on Tuesday support progressive improvement and expansion of the bill, most notably the inclusion of universal long-term care to benefit seniors, people with disabilities, and family caregivers.[1] Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, the sponsors of the New York Health Act, have signaled their intention to amend the bill to include long-term care in time for re-introduction in January.

“Tuesday’s resounding victories further demonstrate that New Yorkers strongly support guaranteed healthcare,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. “I look forward to working with Assembly Member Gottfried, Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins, and every member of the Senate Democratic Conference as we continue shaping the New York Health Act to become a plan that is not only fiscally responsible but effective for all New Yorkers.”

“Tuesday’s results confirm and expand support for the New York Health Act in the legislature,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair and bill sponsor Richard N. Gottfried. “There is now a clear majority of Senators who either co-sponsor the bill, campaigned on it, or voted for it in their past seats as Assembly Members. I expect the Assembly will pass New York Health by a strong margin as we have the past four years, and congratulate and look forward to working with Senator Rivera and Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins to advance the bill in the new Senate Majority.” 

“The nurses stand behind the New York Health Act, as do increasing numbers of New Yorkers, evidenced by this week’s election results. The time is right for this critical measure to become the law,” said Marva Wade, RN, Board Member, New York State Nurses Association.

“This election ushered in a new state Senate that is more in tune with the healthcare needs of the people of New York State. The victories on Tuesday proved what advocates have known for a long time: supporting single-payer healthcare is not just good policy, but clearly good politics,” commented Katie Robbins, Director of the Campaign for New York Health.

“As physicians, we see patients every day suffering needlessly from arbitrary denials of care by private health insurance companies that charge high co-pays and deductibles,” said Oliver Fein, MD, Board Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program - New York Metro Chapter, and Professor of Clinical Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College. “The New York Health Act is the evidence-based cure for what ails our healthcare system. We hope that the election results will lead the legislature at long last to enshrine in law the fundamental principle that healthcare is a human right by passing this bill.”

“On Tuesday, New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted for candidates who championed single-payer healthcare,” said Ilana Berger, co-director of the New York Caring Majority, a statewide coalition of seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, and home care workers. “What’s more, we learned that this issue is as popular in rural and suburban regions as it is in New York City. The Caring Majority is heartened by these results. Now more than ever, we believe that any new health care system MUST incorporate a robust and comprehensive approach to long-term care to ensure ALL families have the coverage they need to provide care and support for our beloved family members who are aging or live with disabilities. With the support of our amazing sponsors, we look forward to reintroducing the NYHA in January with the inclusion of long-term care so that all New Yorkers are able to access the services they need in their homes and communities when they need them. We look forward to working with this broad coalition of people from across the state to create the most comprehensive, progressive single-payer healthcare system in the nation.”

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