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Panel at LIA meeting knocks state single-payer health care bill

Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the

Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the Empire Center, said Thursday that a single-payer system in New York would be costly. Credit: Newsday / David Reich-Hale

The New York Health Act, which would launch state-financed single-payer health care in New York, would lead to higher taxes and deep revenue cuts at area hospitals, experts said at a Long Island Association breakfast panel held Thursday in Melville.

The act has passed the Assembly several years in a row, but has never made it through the Senate, which had been under Republican control until the most recent state elections in 2018.

With the Senate under Democratic control, "there is concern," said Kevin Dahill, the chief executive of the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, which lobbies on behalf of area hospitals. A single-payer bill "has been around for about 20 years, and we haven't worried about it for about 17 years. Now we are worried." 

The law would provide health care for every resident with no copays, deductibles or premiums. 

Critics of the legislation on the panel said the cost of the new plan would be exorbitant, especially if the state used Medicare rates to make payments to providers.

"Ninety-three hospitals would lose more than 10 percent of revenue," said Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the Empire Center for Public Policy, a fiscally conservative  Albany think tank.

"Three-quarters of hospitals would lose money. It would have a ripple effect through the economy," Hammond added.

A study last year by the RAND Corp., a nonprofit analytical think tank, concluded that a single-payer system would force New York to raise another $139 billion in state tax revenue to cover the program for 2022, the year it modeled.

Proponents of the bill said a single-payer system would immediately cover the 1 million New Yorkers who don't currently have health insurance. Supporters also said about half of New Yorkers covered by private health insurance plans delayed or skipped basic care due to cost. 

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