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NYS tries to pass single-payer health care, again

May 17, 2017

The state Assembly on Tuesday is set to pass yet again legislation that would establish a single-payer health care system for the state.

Yet Assembly Democrats, who control the chamber, contextualized the bill by berating congressional action to replace the Affordable Care Act with House Republicans’ American Health Care Act, which is awaiting action in the Senate. New York Democrats at large have warned that the AHCA could have devastating impacts on the state, should it become law as drafted.Though such a system has long been advocated for by some Democrats, the move likely will amount to little more than more pomp and circumstance with the bill’s chances of passing the Republican-held Senate being slim. The bill has the backing of 30 Democratic senators (including members of the Independent Democratic Conference) but lacks a Republican sponsor.

The single-payer bill going before the Assembly on Tuesday has been passed by that chamber in each of the past two years.

Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, D-Manhattan, said he has not seen anything come out of Washington that would keep the state from being able to implement a single-payer system should new federal health regulations be passed.

Gottfried said the state would have to raise $91 billion in revenues to fund such a system, but it ultimately would translate to $45 billion savings for New Yorkers statewide compared to what they pay for health care currently.

Fiscal conservatives have warned that that math doesn’t check out.

“Beyond affordability questions, a single-payer system would impose government price control on all health-care services, eliminating any vestige of market competition in a major sector of the state economy,” the Empire Center’s Bill Hammond wrote last year after the Assembly passed this same bill. “It would also channel billions more dollars through New York’s notoriously dysfunctional state capital, multiplying opportunities for favoritism and corruption.”

Still, short of handcuffing the single-payer bill to the other chamber’s priority legislation as session comes to a close next month, it is unlikely the legislation will make it to the governor’s desk.


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