N.Y. proposes universal health coverage - Catholic Courier

N.Y. proposes universal health coverage

A bill recently introduced in the state Legislature would bring universal health coverage to New Yorkers.

New York Health Plus (A07854) seeks to provide comprehensive coverage to all New Yorkers, according to the bill’s chief sponsor, Richard N. Gottfried (D-75th District), who serves as the Assembly Health Committee chair.

Gottfried and Thomas K. Duane, the Senate Health Committee chair, announced introduction of New York Health Plus on May 5. The bill was moved to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee June 15, but saw no further action before the state legislative session ended June 23.

The Senate’s version of the bill remains in the Senate Health Committee. Gov. David Paterson called for a special session of the Senate later that week but Elizabeth Hamlin, an assistant to Gottfried, said New York Health Plus would likely not be on his agenda.

Hamlin said the Assembly’s version of the bill is expected to stay in Ways and Means for consideration when the Assembly and all of its committees reconvene beginning in January 2010.

Under New York Health Plus, state residents would be able to choose from any health plan that offers the proposed program or from a new public option. New York Health Plus would be modeled after Child Health Plus and Family Health Plus, two existing state programs for low-income families that don’t qualify for Medicaid but do not have or cannot obtain affordable health insurance.

According to Gottfried, individuals and employers would not pay any premiums or deductibles for New York Health Plus, and copayments would be minimal. He added that every state resident would be eligible for coverage regardless of age, income or employment status. Coverage would consist of full comprehensive-health and mental-health benefits. Gottfried said the state would pay for this initiative through a combination of federal matching funds, assessments modeled after Medicare payroll assessments, and assessments on upper-bracket nonwage-and-salary taxable income.

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