Wednesday, December 14, 2016

HEALTH CARE | Federal and State Policy in 2017

Gottfried at a Health Care Rally in Albany.
I just received an email from my NY State Assemblyman, Richard N. Gottfried, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee. 

He says (with some minor edits by me to save space and clarify references):

The election of Donald Trump and Republican control of Congress are a serious threat to programs and policies that protect our health.  Washington could make radical changes to Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, reproductive care, and other programs that could drastically undermine our right to health care, cost New York State billions of dollars a year in federal funds, and destabilize health care providers. ...

For years, congressional attacks on funding and programs have been defeated by the threat or use of presidential vetoes. Now we will have a president who may be leading the charge.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we [in NY State] get 90% federal matching money, instead of the usual 50%, for the "expanded" Medicaid population. ACA repeal would take away the additional funding and cost New York over $2 billion a year. ACA repeal would also eliminate federal funding for the new Essential Plan, blowing an additional $800 million hole in the state budget and potentially leaving 100,000 New Yorkers without health coverage.

President-elect Trump has vowed to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence is an anti-choice extremist who carried legislation doing just that. This is a major platform for the Republican Party and it's likely that Congress would eliminate federal support for family planning services. If President-elect Trump has his way, a new Supreme Court majority would not only overturn Roe v. Wade, but could go further and outlaw some or all abortion - overriding New York's law that protects legal abortion. ...

When Trump and Republicans in Congress say "repeal and replace Obamacare," the agenda is eliminating financial help for low and middle income people who can't afford high premiums and deductibles, shifting more of the cost of health care from insurance companies to consumers, and eliminating consumer protections. They talk about letting insurance companies sell in any state, but insurance companies already can do that. What they really mean is making out-of-state insurance companies exempt from state consumer protection and financial solvency laws. ...

Much of our state public health policy is driven by federal funding, laws, regulations and oversight. We must protect the federal policies and programs New York depends on, and respond with appropriate changes to state law when needed.

Our health insurance-based system is a major contributor to economic inequality and lack of opportunity. The insurance company wants the same premium and imposes the same "cost sharing" whether you're a multi-millionaire CEO or the receptionist struggling to make ends meet. For a median-income household, the cost of insurance can be over a quarter of your income (whether paid by the worker directly or indirectly by your employer lowering your wages). And that's not counting possibly thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket costs.

The New York Health Act is my bill to provide complete universal health coverage (called "single payer" or "improved Medicare for all"), eliminate financial barriers to care, and let people go to the doctor and hospital of their choice. Instead of regressive premiums, deductibles, co-pays and out-of-network charges, it would be funded fairly through broad-based taxes based on ability to pay.
The Assembly passed the bill in 2015 and 2016 - helping to move it from being "a great idea that could never happen" to something really achievable. In 2017, we will continue to work to build public support so it can ultimately pass the [NY State] Senate.