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Letter: Voters should be cautious of single-payer health plan

Health care remains a top issue among voters, and calls for “Medicare for all” at the national level and “single-payer” in New York have been increasing.

At stake could be your ability to receive health care from a doctor you prefer, as well as dramatic increases in your state tax bill, in a state that already taxes its residents more than any other.

“Universal health care” – where everyone is covered – is a goal all can agree on. New York has already achieved almost universal coverage with 95 percent of New Yorkers covered by employer plans, plans bought on the individual market, or through Medicare and Medicaid. But a government-run, single-payer system has severe flaws.

Under the single-payer bill, the state would be the only source of coverage – people would no longer have a choice of insurer, with private health plans prohibited. That includes the not-for-profit upstate health plans that consumers overwhelming rate highly and that employ hundreds of their neighbors.

A much-anticipated RAND study of this issue arrived this summer and it estimated a single-payer system will cost New York taxpayers – employers and residents – $139 billion in 2022. That would require a 156 percent increase in state taxes, devouring spending on other state programs and priorities.

Also, to make the math work, health care providers would have to accept state-set payments for the services they provide. Doctors and hospital officials already say state reimbursements under current government-regulated plans are too low.

Heather Briccetti, president/CEO of the Business Council of New York State, summed up the objections to this course:

“There’s a narrative out there that’s being used in the campaign that single-payer is something that people want and it is something that would be beneficial. It would be devastating to the economy.”

Alfred J. Wright

Buffalo

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