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Assembly Vote Finds Local Representatives On Opposite Sides

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Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WF-125) voted in favor of the New York Health Act (A4738, Gottfried), which was passed in the New York State Assembly on Thursday. The New York State Health Act would establish a single-payer health plan that would cover every New York resident, regardless of wealth, income, age, or health status.

In a statement provided to X101, Lifton said, “I was very proud to cast my vote in the Assembly in support of the New York Health Act. As lawmakers in Washington vote to remove healthcare protections and grant tax cuts to the wealthy, I’m proud of the work that the Assembly Majority is doing to try to ensure that all of our residents have access to quality, affordable healthcare.”

Lifton adds that many New Yorkers continue to struggle with inadequate and expensive healthcare coverage, stretching their family budgets to pay for premiums and out-of-network costs.

“This is a terrible problem, and it’s getting worse,” said Lifton. “Over 200,000 New Yorkers devote half or more of their income each year to healthcare costs. Our private health insurance program is still too expensive for the average family, and it leaves 1 million people without health insurance in New York State, one of the wealthiest states in the country. That’s inexcusable.”

According to an economic analysis prepared by Professor Gerald Friedman at UMass Amherst, the New York Health Act would expand healthcare to thousands of lives and save $44.7 billion in its first year alone, nearly $2200 per person. The New York Health Act would control costs by reducing insurance company overhead, eliminating the local share of Medicaid, and lowering local property taxes by removing the billions that local governments and our schools spend for employee health benefits.

The Assembly Majority’s championing of universal healthcare upholds New York’s proud history of progressive leadership, and I urge the State Senate to follow our example and pass this historic reform.”

Assemblyman Gary Finch

Republican Assemblyman Gary Finch disagrees, offering a statement to media saying, “There’s more we need to do to make healthcare more accessible and more affordable for New Yorkers. However, the radical bill passed by Democrats today would do more harm than good. First, it’s built on the assumption that the federal government would grant the state a waiver to pool Medicaid, Medicare and Veterans Assistance funding to bolster a single payer program. I have received no indication that President Trump or Congressional leaders of either party would be inclined to do so.

“Additionally, I don’t think our middle-class families should be asked to shoulder over $91.5 billion in new taxes to pay for this program. It is a staggering cost.  New Yorkers already face some of the highest taxes in the country. I am deeply skeptical that our state government would operate this program efficiently, particularly when a recent audit from the comptroller exposed over $1.3 billion in wasteful payments doled out through our state’s Medicaid program. If we can’t administer existing state healthcare programs effectively, I find it hard to believe we could run what would become one of the largest healthcare systems in the world overnight without even more waste, fraud and abuse.”

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