Advocates Celebrate Inclusion of Long-Term Care and Support Services
The bill is now amended to include long-term care and support services, making it the most comprehensive, progressive, state-level universal healthcare bill in the country
Albany, NY—Advocates celebrated the reintroduction of the New York Health Act [A.5248, S.3577] yesterday, calling attention to its highly-anticipated revision to include long-term care and support services. This development is the result of years of organizing by women, seniors, people with disabilities, family caregivers, home care workers, unions, undocumented people, and the uninsured who worked with supportive elected officials to include these necessary services as a key component of the benefit package of the proposed universal healthcare system. Eighty-one Assembly Members and twenty-two Senators were listed as original cosponsors on the bill upon reintroduction.
“We estimate that there are approximately 44 million unpaid family caregivers in the US providing almost 90% of care. Home care workers provide the rest. Out of two million home care workers, 90% are women, 53% are women of color. As the population of older adults in New York and across the United States rises, so does the imperative need for caregiving and an improved system of providing long-term care. That is why inclusion of long-term care in single-payer is such a visionary step. It places true value on services and supports to enable aging adults and people with disabilities to access the full scope of care.” Rachel McCullough, co-director of the New York Caring Majority.
After passing the New York Health Act in the Assembly four years in a row with overwhelming support, advocates are optimistic that it will begin to move through the legislative process in the Senate. The respective chairs of the Senate and Assembly Health Committees and lead sponsors of the bill, Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, pledged to hold public hearings after the budget to further advance the debate.
“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, particularly women, are being suffocated by the financial burden placed on them as they provide long-term care for their loved ones,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee and sponsor of the bill. “By covering long-term care in the New York Health Act, we are aiming to provide aging adults and people with disabilities access to the quality care they need while providing financial relief for hard-working families in our state and dramatically improving the system for those who provide care. I look forward to continue working together with my colleagues and key stakeholders to make healthcare a right and not a privilege in New York State.”
“Long-term care is an intolerable drain on family finances and a burden on thousands of family caregivers – disproportionately women – who provide unpaid care to family members,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, Assembly sponsor of the bill. “We can cover long-term care, providing dignity and financial security to millions of aging and disabled New Yorkers, under a progressive public financing model. Every New Yorker should get the health care they need, including long-term supports and services, without facing financial obstacles or hardships to get it.”
While the Governor has expressed support for a single-payer ‘Medicare for All’ system at the federal level, he has not yet lent support to the state-level proposal. Advocates point out that the RAND Corporation’s analysis of the bill found that with long-term care services included in the benefit package, a single-payer system as described in the NY Health Act will cost less than the current system overall, while also improving the lives of people who currently must impoverish themselves to be eligible for Medicaid in order to access long-term care services.
“1199SEIU caregivers understand all too well the access barriers that many New Yorkers face to healthcare,” said Gabby Seay, 1199SEIU’s Political Action Director. “As our population ages, and the demand for long-term care undoubtedly increases, it will be imperative that we have measures in place to ensure that New Yorkers are able to receive the care they need. We commend Senator Rivera and Assembly Member Gottfried for their commitment to our shared vision of healthcare access for all New Yorkers.
Nurses are on the front line of patient care, well aware that healthcare access is not simply a matter of who is insured and who is not,” said Marva Wade, RN and New York State Nurses Association Board Member. “A crisis exists for many of our insured patients struggling to afford the co-pays, deductibles, out-of-network charges, and shifting RX formularies. This results in wasted resources spent navigating this profit-driven system, not to mention limited health access and poor health outcomes. The New York Health Act is the cure for this broken healthcare system!”
“By passing the NY Health Act, we will be on a clear path to truly universal, affordable healthcare — more comprehensive than any existing plan or proposal with inclusion of long-term care benefits. Passing the bill will trigger an implementation process that sets up commissions to address transition issues, financing, negotiation of reimbursement, and regional access issues. But as long as we keep the wasteful, profit-seeking private health insurance corporations at the center of our system, we will struggle to afford and access the health care that we need. Providers will continue to burn out as they fight insurance companies to get their patients needed care. Many hospitals and clinics will continue to chase profitable care delivery models, not what the population actually needs to stay healthy. People will continue to make difficult choices to afford care they need. We need guaranteed healthcare in New York. We need the NY Health Act.” Katie Robbins, Director, Campaign for New York Health.