Socialized Medicine Would Be A Costly Venture

This summer, left-wing Albany politicians have reintroduced an amended version of the New York Health Act (Bill S.7590-Rivera/A.7897-Paulin).

The New York Health Act, which New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms has vocally opposed for years, would kick New Yorkers off of their existing health insurance plans and force them to enroll in a state-run system of socialized medicine. Under the New York Health Act, the state of New York would become your health insurance provider. For the most part, the cost of health insurance would be paid for through taxes; there would be no insurance premiums, no co-pays, no deductibles, and no co-insurance.

The New York Health Act was not introduced during the 2023 legislative session. According to Spectrum News 1, the bill has been the subject of months of negotiations, and it has been amended to address cost concerns expressed by labor unions. The New York Health Act has 34 Senate sponsors; only 32 “yea” votes would be needed to pass it. It has 70 sponsors in the Assembly, where 76 affirmative votes are needed for a bill to pass. To date, Gov. Kathy Hochul remains opposed to the bill. If the Governor maintains her opposition, the bill cannot become law unless each house of the legislature votes to override the Governor’s veto by a two-thirds supermajority.

The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), recently said, “‘I’m going to ask everybody to take one step back and ask themselves: Does the current [health insurance] system work for you? Does it? Has it? Has it worked for your family? Has it worked for your community? Has it worked for you individually? And the answer will be ‘No.’” It is foolish for Sen. Rivera to assert that New Yorkers all agree with his perspective on health insurance. Believe it or not, some New Yorkers are satisfied with our health insurance, and we do not want to be forced off of it.

Even if every New Yorker agreed that the current health insurance system was broken, that does not necessarily mean that a state government takeover would be an improvement. The state’s attempt to implement a recreational marijuana law has proven to be an embarrassing failure. Do we really believe that a state that can’t manage to license marijuana merchants is capable of taking over and running a health insurance system for almost 20 million people?

For years now, Sen. Gustavo Rivera and his colleagues have neglected to answer one key question about the New York Health Act: If passed, how much would the bill cost? The 28-page bill is completely silent about the legislation’s overall cost to the state, and it is almost completely silent about the amount it would cost New York families in taxes.

Here’s what the bill does tell us: The New York Health Act would be paid for with two new income taxes—one tax on payroll and self-employment income, and a second tax on other income. New Yorkers who earn less than $25,000 per year, as well as New York Medicare recipients who earn less than $50,000 per year, would not pay any new taxes under the New York Health Act. Employers would be responsible to pay at least 80% of each employee’s New York Health Act payroll tax. The New York Health Act taxes would be progressively higher at higher income levels. The amounts of these two new taxes would be determined through budget legislation to be proposed by the governor and passed by the legislature the year after the New York Health Act becomes law.

New York voters may find it strange that the New York Health Act lacks detailed information about the program’s cost. Did Sen. Rivera forget to include the cost? Could he and his colleagues simply not be bothered to ascertain it? At New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, we believe that the answer is “no.” The most likely reason for this omission is fear—fear that if New York voters knew how much this bill would hike our taxes, we would passionately oppose it. To avoid that problem, the New York Health Act proposes to punt the cost question until the year after the bill passes. This way, once voters find out the price tag for this massive government boondoggle, it will be too late for us to put a stop to it.

Regardless of the reason, it is amateurish and cowardly for Sen. Rivera to propose a government takeover of a huge chunk of the state’s economy and to refuse to tell voters how much that takeover would cost us.

This article was updated on July 30, 2023 to reflect the introduction of a same-as bill in the State Assembly.