I just left a sweaty Catholic school gym where 400 members of the Park Slope Food Coop (disproportionately shod in Keen and Birkenstock sandals) voted overwhelmingly to endorse the New York Health Act, a Medicare for all plan that is one state senator away from passing here in New York.
I don’t normally write about political issues, and I’m going to continue that tradition today since I believe that healthcare shouldn’t be a political issue. Watch Jimmy Kimmel tearfully explain in a mixture of disgust and gratefulness how, after seeing his newborn son’s life saved by emergency surgery, no parent should be unable to afford to save their child’s life.
I won’t wade too much into the weeds of the policy – for that, educate yourself here. The RAND Institute, which is by no means a liberal think tank, produced a recent study indicating that the NYHA is not only viable in the state, but would save money and add many uninsured people.
Basically, a single-payer system in New York would ultimately provide considerable savings because:
- The pool of risk is truly shared.
- There is no demand for shareholder profits.
- The system would have better leverage to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers.
- Administrative costs would drop drastically (Medicare’s administrative costs are 2 or 3% of total spending; private insurers average 16%).
But all of these points only follow and support the urgent feeling I have that this is a moral issue. As many of you know, I was disabled and in chronic pain for several years; my medical bills would have been tens of thousands of dollars every year were it not for my wife’s excellent health insurance. I avoided bankruptcy and healed. Why should this be unique to people like myself, or Jimmy Kimmel, and not to freelancers, artists, domestic workers, etc.?
To what degree are we in it together, and to what degree are we just in it for ourselves? This is a question we are all continually negotiating, of course, but healthcare – the ability to live – seems so above whether we can afford to drive a BMW or Ford, whether we shop at Target or Brooks Brothers. The society I want to live in is one in which we can agree on the need to take care of each other.
If single-payer seems hard to imagine, consider our current situation: why should Aetna shareholders influence what gets covered on my plan?
The bill is close to passing. It needs only one state senator. That being said, I believe without a groundswell of support, it may languish in Albany. Andrew Cuomo is opposed to NYHA, while his primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, is a strong supporter.
I’m hosting and setting up house parties where people can learn about and discuss NYHA, be skeptical, drink artisanal cocktails, and participate in a movement. Email me if you’re interested. And check out NYHA’s short video here.
Please remember to vote this Thursday, September 13 in New York’s primary election, and learn which candidates support a more equitable healthcare system.
Thanks for reading.