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With Obamacare in doubt, New York eyes a single-payer healthcare system supported by Queens lawmaker

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As the future of the Affordable Care Act remains in doubt, New York is working to create a universal single-payer healthcare plan for its citizens, with support from Queens lawmakers.

The future of the ACA (otherwise known as Obamacare) hangs in the balance after the House passed earlier this month a replacement known as the American Health Care Act, which dismantles much of the ACA’s provisions. The Senate has yet to take up action on that bill, but it is likely to come up with its own alternative plan to “repeal and replace” the ACA.

Nevertheless, the New York State Assembly passed on May 16 legislation A.4738, also known as the New York Healthcare Act, which would create a universal health care system within New York state and expand coverage eligibility to include all residents, regardless of their income, age, wealth or pre-existing conditions.

The plan, should it pass the Republican-controlled state Senate, would provide a host of services for all New Yorkers including both inpatient and outpatient care, primary and preventive care, maternity care, prescription drug costs, lab testing, rehabilitative care, as well as dental, vision and hearing. In addition to these benefits, out-of-state health care would also be covered for services needed during travel, and when there is a clinical reason to receive care outside of New York.

“The threatened repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Washington requires New York to act on the state level,” said Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, who voted in favor of the New York Healthcare Act in the Assembly. “This Assembly legislation takes a stand to ensure health care is available to everyone.”

One of the main issues with a universal single-payer healthcare plan is the cost and who will foot the bill.

The New York Healthcare Act would be publicly funded by both employers and employees. The funding would be an 80/20 employer/employee payroll tax contribution that would be progressive and based on the amount the employee is paid.

This means that employers would not have to be responsible for paying premiums, which would save them money, and they would no longer need to sign contracts with insurance companies. Additionally, small businesses would not be forced to compete with health plans offered by larger competitors.

Also, state and federal funding that are received for Medicare, Medicaid and Child Health Plus will be used to create the New York Health Trust Fund. New York would look to completely fold these programs into the New York Healthcare Act through federal waivers which would eliminate the local share of Medicaid funding, offering major property tax relief for New Yorkers.

“Here in New York, we look out for one another, and it’s about time our health care system truly reflects that,” Nolan said. “We need a system that provides the seniors who depend on prescription medication or the parents whose baby was born with a pre-existing condition with the health care they need no matter what.”

According to Nolan, the New York state Department of Health published a report revealing that a single-payer healthcare system would provide the lowest cost for universal coverage when compared with private and employer-based insurance.

The New York Healthcare Act, previously passed the state Assembly three times, and fizzled out in the Senate all three times, Modern Healthcare reported.

“An inability to pay, or a pre-existing condition, should never stop you from going to the doctor’s appointment, receiving the tests and getting the treatment that could save your life,” Nolan added. “In the long run, this single-payer system may improve care, and save taxpayer money.”

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