David Stone
Delivering the message: Henry Moss, PhD
Board Member
Physicians for a National Health Program
Delivering the message: Henry Moss, PhD Board Member Physicians for a National Health Program
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

The dream of a universal, single-payer health care plan that will provide comprehensive health care coverage for all New Yorkers edges close to reality today according to a talk at the CBN/RI Senior Center.

Henry Moss, PhD, a Board Member for Physicians for a National Health Program, watched a full house gather, filling up the Roosevelt Island Senior Center cafeteria until all chairs were filled, leaving a half-dozen standing at the back and leaning in from the corridor. 

It's a message people want to hear. Is it possible?

We've never been nearer winning universal, guaranteed healthcare, is what Moss came to tell Islanders.

Maiella, Italian dining by the water, five minutes from Main Street...
Maiella, Italian dining by the water, five minutes from Main Street...
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The New York Health Act passed the NYS Assembly four years in a row, and a majority in the State Senate are on record in support. But that Albany being Albany, isn't enough.

Pressure's needed, according to Dr. Moss, from the bottom up to get Senators to do the right thing and go bold on healthcare. 

The nitty-gritty of this bill:

The New York Health Act will provide comprehensive, universal health coverage for every New Yorker. You and your healthcare providers will work to keep you healthy—New York Health pays the bill. We need to fight back against the congressional attacks on affordable healthcare nationally and organize in New York for a healthcare system that guarantees coverage for all of us.

How would the New York Health Act Work? 

1. Freedom to choose your health care providers. There would be no network restrictions. Only patients and their doctors – not insurance companies – would make health care decisions.

2. Comprehensive coverage. All New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, would be covered for all medically necessary services, including: primary, preventive, specialists, hospital, mental health, reproductive health care, dental, vision, prescription drug, and medical supply costs – more comprehensive than commercial health plans.

3. Paid for fairly. Today, insurance companies set the same high premiums, deductibles, and co-pays, whether it’s for a CEO or a receptionist, and a big successful company actually pays less than a small new business.

For practical purposes, everyone would carry an identification card they'd pull out to obtain care, as easy as swiping at a Tram turnstile or paying for your groceries at Wholesome Factory.

The program would be funded by taxes on all New Yorkers and pooling Medicaid and Medicare funds already in existence. 

Best of all, says the nonpartisan Rand Corporation, after studying NYHA, providing universal health care through the act would result in net savings for New Yorkers.

The challenge: 

Activist Ellen Polivy offers to organize pressure on our State Senator José Serrano.
Activist Ellen Polivy offers to organize pressure on our State Senator José Serrano.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Since the State Assembly has already passed the New York Health Act four times and a majority of State Senators have pledged their support, it would seem easy, but State government's not so simple. There are obstacles, including a governor concerned about costs and opposition from insurance companies, who'll be knocked out the health care business in New York, hospital, drug and physician groups resisting some or all elements of the program.

If the dream of high quality health care is to come true in New York, citizen action needs to bring pressure to bear on State Senators to push the act over the goal line. 

José Serrano represents Roosevelt Island and is a NYHA sponsor in the Senate, but believing that he needs to see our support, local activist Ellen Polivy is offering to lead a delegation of Roosevelt Islanders to his Bronx office to make our sentiments clear.

You can contact Polivy about joining in at elpolivy@gmail.com. Or you can contact Senator Serrano directly at his Albany office, ‭(518) 455-2800‬ / email: serrano@senate.state.ny.us