Health Act Hearing Held at Ulster County Office Building

Members of the New York State Assembly and Senate health committees convened at the Ulster County Office Building, in Kingston, on Nov. 25 to discuss a pending single-payer healthcare program for the state. 

“Hudson Valley residents will be joining health care providers, nurses, labor leaders and members, patients, businesses and caregivers to rally before the public hearing,” a press release obtained by The Daily Freeman states. “The hearings provide an opportunity for comments and suggestions from stakeholders around the state on the New York Health Act.”

Lynn Esteban, a Poughkeepsie resident and mother of two, choked back tears as she shared her battle with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME). The Center for Disease Control classifies ME as a “disabling and complex” illness that causes overwhelming fatigue that cannot be alleviated by rest. While she used to manage everything from marketing to manure shoveling at her landscaping business, she called her ability to testify at the hearing a “herculean effort.”

“At my best, I am still mostly homebound and at my worst I am bedridden,” Esteban Said. 

She explained that there are only two ME specialists in New York: one only accepts cash and the other accepts select insurances. After her husband’s job announced they would be switching insurance providers, the fears of increased bills and decreased appointments weighs heavily on her mind.  

“It is a reduction in care that I should not have to face,” she said. 

According to the New York Health Campaign (NYHC) website, the Health Act is a comprehensive and universal healthcare plan that will replace private healthcare for New York residents. Instead of getting healthcare through a job or purchasing it on your own, the state would be covered by a public statewide fund that is applicable to every resident regardless of age, employment status or financial standing. 

The NYHC website provided a number of startling statistics linked to healthcare access in New York State. Each day, as many as three residents die from inadequate healthcare. In fact, it’s estimated that roughly 20,000 state residents have died over the past decade because of this issue. These numbers are even more concerning when over one million New Yorkers have no access to healthcare whatsoever.

The bill would also allow residents to choose the healthcare provider that best fits their needs, as opposed to picking from the options of a private provider. Residents will be able to opt for a private provider if they so choose. Additionally, the Health Act aims to reduce drug costs by up to 40% and ensure that each person subscribed to the plan receives equal treatment and care, according to NYHC.  

While the bill states that coverage will be funded by a graduated income tax, based on one’s ability to pay, New Yorkers will likely face a sizeable spike in their taxes. The scope of said increases is yet to be determined. 

The hearing was the fourth in a number of hearings that were held over the past few months. These previous hearing were held in Albany on May 28, Rochester on Oct. 10 and the Bronx on Oct. 23, according to The Daily Freeman, and are available at bit.ly/2qu56M7. A video for the Kingston hearing is available on that link as well.  

According to the New York State Assembly website, the bill currently rests in the Assembly Committee. 

Max Freebern
About Max Freebern 82 Articles
Max Freebern is a fourth-year journalism major who’s going into his fifth semester working for Oracle. He worked his way from a contributor, to copy editor and has served as the News editor for the past few semester. While he normally focuses on local government his true passion is writing immersive work and human profiles.