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Thanks for listening on single-payer health care

To the editor:

Many thanks to the Adirondack Voters for Change for inviting us (New York Assemblyman Phil Steck, single-payer activist Ting Barrow and George Jolly, MD) to the Jan. 18 informational night concerning the New York Health Act.

The New York Health Act is a “single-payer” system of health care finance. Under a single-payer system, a single public agency is responsible for paying all necessary medical care. The only participation requirement is residency. There are no co-pays, no deductibles and no premiums. The system is financed by progressive taxes on payroll and on unearned income. Using tax brackets and rates proposed by Gerald Friedman, UMass economist, it is estimated that 98 percent of New Yorkers would pay less, taking into account premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. The New York Health program would replace Medicare and Medicaid (incorporating the current funding for those programs) and eliminate all commercial insurance, with universal coverage at least as good as that currently available to state workers. The NY Health program would negotiate pricing with manufacturers of drugs and medical devices.

This issue has great significance for local New York state governments. Town, school district and county governments have been struggling with rising costs of health insurance for their employees. The potential savings under the NY Health Act are significant. We estimate that annually Essex County might save $11 million, Franklin County $15.6 million and the Saranac Lake Central School District about $5 million under the NY Health Act.

Our work has been to get the single-payer concept and the New York Health Act into conversation. We were heartened by the interest and enthusiasm for the New York Health Act that we encountered in Saranac Lake.

George Jolly, MD

Middle Grove

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