“Healthcare is a right” (Photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)
The truth is that New York’s profit-driven health care system continues to fail marginalized communities, as we represent in state legislatures. As a matter of racial and gender justice, we must finally pass single-payer health care in this state’s legislative session.
Before we were elected to office, we each worked in or around New York’s health-care system – Assemblymember Reyes as an oncology nurse, Assemblymember Forrest as a maternal-child health nurse, and Assemblymember González-Rojas as a reproductive healthcare advocate.
Through our work and our own life experiences as Afro-Latino, Black and Latino women, we have seen firsthand how our health care system reproduces racial and gender inequality in our beloved New York.
Our city and state have now been through more than two years of a pandemic that has severely impacted the black, Latino, immigrant and low-income communities we represent and has crippled our already broken health care system . As representatives of the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens, we have a responsibility to fight for the health and well-being of the voters who elected us, and we know that what’s good for them is also good for millions of other New Yorkers. Now is the time for us and our colleagues in the Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign the New York Health Act.
First presentation from our colleague Richard Gottfried at the conference New York Health Law. Yes, you read that right – 31 years old. Since then, the bill has undergone several iterations, but its core principle has remained the same: The New York Health Act would “create a universal single-payer health plan — New York Health — that provides comprehensive coverage for all New Yorkers. health insurance.”
The New York Health Plan will replace the existing private insurance plan for every worker and resident and includes Medicare, Medicaid, Children’s Health Plus, and all benefits under the Affordable Care Act. With a universal single payer, New Yorkers will no longer have to rely on family members or employers, pay high monthly premiums, or forgo coverage entirely.While the plan would require New York State to impose two new progressive taxes, research shows New Yorkers will still pay a lot less Overall, health care costs under the New York Health Code are higher than they are today.
Decoupling health insurance coverage from employment and lowering the cost of health care will have a hugely positive impact on the Black, Latino, immigrant, women and low-income New Yorkers we represent. We know that over the past two years, blacks and Latinos have experienced higher unemployment longer. According to the 2021 New York Community Service Association report, 22% of low-income New Yorkers People who have lost employment income since the first wave of COVID-19 have also lost health insurance. Of that 22 percent, more than half are Latino.
We know that women and marginalized genders disproportionately leave the workforce entirely to provide childcare for their families, and the state fails to do so and therefore loses employer insurance. Undocumented New Yorkers still don’t get Medicaid because universal coverage was excluded from our most recent state budget.Insufficient coverage, inadequate coverage, coverage gaps and health care costs are some of the Biggest Barrier to Accessing Care For communities of color. The New York Health Act could all but remove these barriers.
In addition to reducing costs for vulnerable households and ensuring that every New Yorker has access to comprehensive health care, regardless of circumstance or status, the New York Health Act will help improve the quality of health care received by New Yorkers overall. By reducing costs and balancing coverage, our safety net hospitals will no longer be overburdened by New Yorkers who have nowhere to go. Safety net hospitals in each of our regions are on the front lines of the pandemic, serving primarily Black and Latino members of our communities.Due to years of Inequitable distribution of Medicaid funds.
Our profit-driven healthcare system has pushed New York’s entire hospital system and the providers who work within it to the brink. not enough funds, data Indicates a decline in the quality of care in hospitals.This has devastating consequences, not only for black new york twice as likely Hospitalized with the most recent Omicron variant compared to their white counterparts, but for all births in our community who rely on hospitals for pregnancy and postpartum care. In the past two years, at least three black women (one in each borough we represent) have died from preventable causes during or shortly after giving birth in a hospital.
Single-payer universal healthcare for nurses, midwives, home caregivers and other healthcare providers bargaining power To get fairer wages and safer working conditions, and allow providers to focus on patient care, not cost. It will also allow us to define what comprehensive coverage looks like and expand the reach of reproductive and LGBTQ healthcare, both of which are under attack across the country.
New York health law has passed the General Assembly four times. After years of advocacy and securing Democratic majorities in the state Senate, we finally have majorities in both houses of the Legislature. This is the year to finish it.
We are tired of having to work with a broken legislature and an uncooperative executive branch that has prevented us from reforming for years while our constituents are suffering. We are tired of all the talk about leading progressive causes without real progressive action. We’re tired of trying to mend the edges to reform a fundamentally unjust healthcare system and perpetuate the same-sex and racial inequalities we’ve been chosen to address. We have had enough. We need the New York Health Act now.
Assemblyman Jessica González-Rojas was the first Latino to represent District 34, which includes Woodside, Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst and parts of Corona, Queens. Before running for office, she served as executive director of the National Latino Reproductive Health Institute, where she fought for policies to expand access to reproductive and sexual health care in the Latino/x community, including New York.
Registered Nurse Karines Reyes represents the 87th Council District of the Bronx, which includes the Castle Hill, Parkchester, Van Nest and West Farms communities. She works as a daily registered nurse in oncology at Montefiore Medical Center. In 2020, she returned to nursing, especially at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Registered Nurse Phara Souffrant Forrest represents the 57th Council District, which consists of the Fort Greene and Clinton Hill communities and parts of Bed-Stuy, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights. Prior to her election, she worked as a maternal health nurse and organized tenants in the neighborhoods she now represents.