Assembly Health Approves Government Takeover Of Health Insurance

On February 28, 2019, the New York State Assembly Health Committee approved the New York Health Act (Bill S.3577-Rivera/A.5248-Gottfried).

The New York Health Act (NYHA) would create a government-controlled single-payer health insurance system in the State of New York. If this bill were passed, most private health insurance would no longer be allowed in New York. Instead, all New Yorkers would be eligible for enrollment in a New York Health program that would pay everyone’s medical bills with no premiums, deductibles, or co-pays. New York Health would be paid for “through a progressively-graduated payroll-based tax…and a progressively-graduated tax based on other taxable income, such as capital gains, interest and dividends.” The bill irresponsibly fails to lay out the nuts and bolts of the funding for this costly proposal, leaving it to the Governor to submit a specific revenue plan later.

New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms opposes the New York Health Act for several important reasons. First, the Act would likely lead to poorer health outcomes. Research shows that people on Medicaid are generally not in better health than people who have no health insurance at all. The New York Health Act would create a Medicaid-like system for everyone, with corresponding results. Second, the New York Health Act would give government a huge incentive to pressure practitioners into rationing care for cost control purposes. If private health insurance were no longer available, high-cost patients—including the elderly, persons with disabilities, and persons with terminal illnesses—would have no other options if the government refused to provide coverage for their care and treatment. Third, the Act would endanger religious liberty; under the Act, government would likely pressure faith-based health care providers into engaging in acts that violate their beliefs or leaving the health care field altogether. Fourth, the RAND Corporation has estimated that the NYHA would cost the State of New York $139 billion in the year 2022. (By way of comparison, the entire state budget for the 2019 fiscal year is $168.3 billion.) The massive tax increases that would be required to fund this proposal would harm the state by motivating both employers and employees to move elsewhere. Fifth, the NYHA would give state government almost-complete control over health care. There is no doubt that the current health insurance system is flawed. However, a wasteful and inefficient government takeover of health insurance would be much, much worse.

Despite bipartisan opposition, the Assembly Health Committee voted 17-8 to advance the NYHA. (All Republican members of the Committee voted against the bill, as did Democratic Asm. Robin Schimminger, D-Kenmore.) The bill now moves to the Assembly Codes Committee for further consideration.