Three questions for N.Y. state Assembly member Richard Gottfried, chairman of the health committee and sponsor of the New York Heath Act, which would provide free, unrestricted health care for all New York State residents.
How would your plan work?
By creating a single payer with no insurance companies,the savings that you get from not paying insurance company administrative costs, and from doctors and hospitals not having to fight with insurance companies, lowers the
overall price tag. Every New Yorker would be eligible. There is no mandate, because everyone is covered, and no out of pocket cost. Healthcare today accounts for 17% of household income. Under the N.Y. Health Act it would be 6% to 7%. New York employers pay $2 billion a year just handling paperwork on health insurance, picking a plan, dealing with complaints – all of that would be gone.
How will it help small business?
Because it’s paid by a graduated tax on payroll and taxable unearned income, not only is the total lump smaller, but the share paid by employers of food and restaurant workers would be much smaller. For a small business that’s not now providing coverage, it’s a way for the owner to get his or her own coverage at a lower cost and to no longer be worrying about recruiting or holding on to good people who find a new job with health coverage.
It’s passed the Assembly this year by a 2-to-1 margin, and there are now 30 state senators sponsoring the bill [32 are needed for a majority, but the Republican leadership could block a vote]. I think Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo likes to see a lot more popular support for something this big before he jumps in. (Answers have been edited and condensed)