Of­fi­cials asked to sup­port sin­gle-payer health plan in state

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­line.com

KINGSTON, N.Y. » Com­mon Coun­cil mem­bers are be­ing asked to sup­port a proposal for uni­ver­sal health care cov­er­age in New York state.

The re­quest for a memo­ri­al­iz­ing res­o­lu­tion was made at a coun­cil meet­ing Wed­nes­day.

Sup­port­ers said mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of­fer a strong plat­form that could help con­vince state law­mak­ers to adopt the New York Health Act, a bill that has failed re­peat­edly since 2015 be­cause the Repub­li­can-led state Se­nate has de­clined to let the bill out of com­mit­tee for a vote.

In the pro­posed Se­nate ver­sion of the leg­is­la­tion, of­fi­cials wrote that “there would be no net­work re­stric­tions, de­ductibles, or co-pays. Cov­er­age would be pub­licly funded. The ben­e­fits will in­clude com­pre­hen­sive out­pa­tient and in­pa­tient med­i­cal care, pri­mary and pre­ven­tive care, pre­scrip­tion drugs, lab­o­ra­tory tests, re­ha­bil­i­ta­tive, den­tal, vi­sion, hear­ing, etc. — all ben­e­fits re­quired by cur­rent state in­sur­ance law or pro­vided by the state pub­lic em­ployee pack­age, Fam­ily Health Plus, Child Health Plus, Medi­care, or Med­i­caid, and oth­ers added by the plan.”

Speak­ing be­fore the Com­mon Coun­cil, Dr. Ran­dall Ris­sam said, “Since I grad­u­ated med­i­cal school 41 years ago, we were talk­ing about wouldn’t it be nice if we could just treat ev­ery­body and treat ev­ery­body the same and give them good health care? Doc­tors still feel that way.”

Riss­man added that “this is a moral and eth­i­cal im­per­a­tive to give care to ev-

ery­body . ... The amount of money and waste that goes off the top of the health care dol­lar by in­sur­ance com­pa­nies,

the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­tries, the sup­pli­ers is as­tro­nom­i­cal. We can do a bet­ter job with this.”

Riss­man said ev­ery doc­tor knows “peo­ple who have been hard hit or died be­cause they didn’t have good health care.”

Res­i­dent Paul Cooper said a state health care pro­gram would be par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to peo­ple stricken with ill­nesses that are ex­pen­sive to treat.

“My grand­daugh­ter ... was born with a very rare blood dis­or­der,” he said.

“Once or twice a year she gets an in­fec­tious dis­ease like the flu and she ends up in the hospi­tal get­ting blood trans­fu­sions . ... What’s go­ing to hap­pen when, with the help of God, she reaches the age when she out­grows her par­ents’ health care

(cov­er­age)?”

Cooper said the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate has led to an “in­sti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of cal­lous­ness and cru­elty” and peo­ple can­not have faith that elected of­fi­cials will al­low peo­ple to main­tain cov­er­age for pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tions.

A res­o­lu­tion sup­port­ing the pro­posed law was adopted by Saugerties town of­fi­cials in June, with of­fi­cials writ­ing that it would pro­vide a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem of ac­cess to health care.

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