Special Senate Session is Another Opportunity to Pass New York Health Act

One week ago on June 21, the New York state senate’s regularly scheduled 2017 session came to end. The New York Health Act was not brought out of committee nor onto the floor for a vote. That is despite the bill’s having the support of 31 state senators, one short of a majority.

This inaction in Albany comes at the same time the U.S. Senate is pushing through a replacement of the Affordable Care Act that would eliminate access to health care for 1.3 million New Yorkers.

The U.S. Senate bill proposes increasing the proportion of health care costs that consumers who qualify for subsidies must pay. That means deductibles would increase for people buying insurance through the New York state health exchange. The bill would put caps on Medicaid spending, and allows insurance companies to charge older people even higher premiums than they could previously. Finally, it penalizes people who let their insurance coverage lapse for two months by instituting a six month waiting period for them to get coverage when they sign up again.

This strikes us as a particularly cruel condition. It means in a medical emergency, people with unstable incomes will have to pay the full cost of their health care. If they are not already living in poverty, this will guarantee that they do. Even more precipitous, if they cannot pay, delaying treatment for six months could easily be a death sentence for a person recently diagnosed with cancer.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Supporter of the New York Health Act at a panel on the future of health care in Rochester, New York (photo credit: DSA Rochester)

The fight for health care for all in New York is far from over. In fact, it is just heating up. On June 27, Governor Cuomo called a special session of the state senate, mainly to extend mayoral control of the New York City school system. But he can, and has indicated, that he might ask lawmakers to address other issues.

A vote on the New York Health Act should be one of them.

And despite these nice words, Governor Cuomo has not yet expressed support for the New York Health Act.

This is where you come in.

1. Call Governor Andrew Cuomo and urge him to support the New York Health Act’s passage into law, even if that means calling another special session of the state senate: 518–474–8390

2. Call NY Senator Kemp Hannon, chair of the Health Committee, and ask him to stand for a prosperous future for all New Yorkers by supporting the New York Health Act: 518–455–2200

3. Call NY Senator John Flanagan, senate majority leader, and tell him passage of the New York Health Act is a priority for New Yorkers. Urge him to support the passage of the bill this year: 518–455–2071

And of course, tell your friends and neighbors! Share this post with them and check out our website for events across New York where you can stand with health care for all!