Finds NY Health Act Will Provide Coverage for All Residents, Boost Economy and Create Jobs

(New York, NY) The Campaign for New York Health welcomed a study released today from the RAND Corporation, commissioned by the New York State Health Foundation, to evaluate the economic impact of the New York Health Act (A.4738 /S.4840), legislation that would create a universal, single-payer health care system in New York State with no cost barriers to patients. The overall findings of the study reinforce the Campaign’s position that a unified, progressively-financed system that replaces the current fragmented methods of paying for healthcare will achieve greater access at lower cost than the status quo.

A key finding in the long-awaited study is that the vast majority of New Yorkers will pay less for healthcare coverage than they currently spend through premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance (percentages of fees for services). This is due to the tremendous efficiencies from cutting out wasteful administrative expenses, insurance industry profits, and overpricing of prescription drugs, which could be negotiated downward through bulk buying.

Additional highlights of the study revealed an anticipated 2% employment increase in the state, equating to an estimated 150,000 jobs, as well as increased wages for most New Yorkers. Most small and medium-size businesses will see major savings in healthcare costs when comparing the potential payroll tax rate to current insurance premiums.

Advocates enthusiastically welcomed the study’s findings that long-term care services, with an emphasis on home-based care, could be fully incorporated into the New York Health plan without exceeding current overall healthcare spending after ten years. The current system for accessing long-term care services requires that individuals impoverish themselves to be eligible for Medicaid, the only public insurance program that covers long-term care needs.

Unlike previous studies, RAND did not address the positive impact on rates of illness and death with a single-payer universal system.  A growing body of research makes it clear that when people have health insurance coverage, it improves management of health conditions and lowers chances of death from preventable causes.

Critics of the single-payer healthcare point out that to fully fund a single-payer program, it will require raising taxes to replace the current combination of employer and individual premiums and out-of-pocket spending by consumers. But the study makes it clear that the total cost for healthcare will be lower for the state, and savings increase over time despite additional funding through taxes. Similarly on the national level, a recent study on the national Medicare-for-All proposal by Mercatus, a libertarian organization funded by the Koch brothers — despite attacking the plan overall — found that it will save $2 trillion in overall healthcare spending over the next decade, even though it raises money through taxes to fund the system.

While other experts in the healthcare financing field find that several of RAND’s calculations overestimate the plan’s costs and downplay its benefits, single-payer advocates are buoyed by the findings overall. This study is a welcome addition to the growing body of evidence supporting the movement to make the NY Health Act a political reality.

Richard Gottfried, Assembly Health Committee Chair: This is an important validation of the New York Health Act by one of the most prestigious analytical firms in the country. RAND shows we can make sure every New Yorker gets the care they need and does not suffer financially to get it; save billions of dollars a year by cutting administrative costs, insurance company profit, and outrageous drug prices; and pay for it all more fairly. Even though RAND thinks the net savings back in the pockets of New Yorkers will be less than I think we’d actually get, this is still a terrific deal for New York. The study also shows it’s feasible to include long term care – home health care and nursing homes – in the bill.

State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Ranking Member of State Senate Health Committee: “The RAND study makes it clear that the New York Health Act is not only feasible, but the most fiscally responsible option for our State. While we estimate that the benefits to New York State will be greater than those outlined in the study, we all agree that the implementation of the New York Health Act translates into more savings and jobs, while expanding critical health care coverage and access for all New Yorkers regardless of their wealth. I will continue to work with Assembly Member Gottfried and the many advocate organizations that support the bill as we stand up for what is right and work to implement an efficient and universal healthcare system in New York State.

Marva Wade, RN, Board of Directors for the New York State Nurses Association, representing 42,000 nurses in NYS, and a founding organization of the Campaign for NY Health: “New Yorkers are ready for a healthcare system that prioritizes access to high quality care that is truly affordable for every resident. The consequences of our fragmented, for-profit system are devastating, causing unnecessary deaths and bankruptcy. This study reinforces what nurses have been saying for years: it is possible for policymakers to develop a universal healthcare system that is funded fairly, and improves access to high-quality care for all without spending more than the current system.”

Oliver Fein, MD, Board Chair of Physicians for a National Health Program – New York Metro Chapter, and Professor of Clinical Medicine and Clinical Healthcare Policy and Research at Weill Cornell Medicine: “The RAND study aligns with much previous research finding that a single-payer system covering everyone for all medical services, including dental care, hearing aids, long term care, much-needed mental healthcare and substance use treatment without charges like copays and deductibles — is affordable. In particular, we are pleased the study finds that under single-payer New York State could afford to increase the reimbursements of the many doctors currently undercompensated by Medicaid and Medicare, and suggests that many doctors and hospitals would be able to redirect funds to increasing patient care that are now wasted on filing paperwork and fighting with multiple private insurers.”

Maria Alvarez, Executive Director, NYS Statewide Senior Action Council: “This study proves that New York can invest in a caring economy, that will end the horrible practice in our current system that requires aging adults and people with disabilities to impoverish themselves by spending down their assets in order to qualify for the supports and services that allow them to remain in their homes and communities. This study represents a huge step forward for our advocacy for a healthcare system — including long-term care services — that truly meets the needs of New Yorkers.”

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