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Testimony to New York State Senate & Assembly Joint Committee Hearing The New York Health Act
Presented by Name: Lev Ginsburg, Esq. Title: Senior Director of Government Affairs October 10, 2019
On behalf of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. and our more than 2,300 members – businesses large and small all across the state – I wish to submit these comments into the record as part of this joint committee’s hearing on the New York Health Act. As the state’s largest statewide employer advocacy organization, we often address issues impacting the state’s economic competitiveness, including business costs driven by state policy actions.
The establishment of a government-run healthcare system in New York would undoubtedly impact every employer and have a deleterious effect on the economy of the state as a whole. In light of the barrage of rhetoric supporting such a government-run system, it’s useful to separate myth from fact. Government-run health insurance is not synonymous with universal coverage. We know this because New York has nearly achieved universal coverage under the current health insurance structure. As of today, over 95 percent of New Yorkers have health care coverage. Of the remaining 4.5 percent, roughly half are eligible to receive coverage under existing plans and choose not to. This is why the Business Council has supported efforts, such as the New York Health Plans sponsors’ own bill, S.3900 / A.5974 , which by allowing people, currently ineligible for federal financial participation because of immigration status, to buy health insurance under New York’s Essential Health program, would bring New York to almost universal coverage without destroying the state’s economy. The New York Health Act is an incredibly dangerous solution to a problem the does not exist. As proposed, government-run health insurance would be outrageously expensive.
Since neither the bill nor its sponsors have ever addressed the actual costs, multiple outside studies have been used to estimate them. The results are scary. Starting at just under $100 billion per year, and climbing all the way to a quarter of a trillion dollars, the cost is far more than the entirety of our current state budget, necessitating tax increases larger than any in history. Other studies point to a potential loss of 150,000 jobs in the state. Thankfully, polls show that despite the rhetoric, there is no great groundswell of public opinion pushing for these changes. While we have seen the national conversation move away from mandated government-run health insurance, some in New York continue to push this plan, which is bound to do more bad than good. The fact is, that other states have already tried this and failed under the enormity of the financial impact. Lawmakers in California proposed and ultimately rejected a similar plan when its true costs were revealed. Similar stories played out in Vermont and Colorado. Government-run healthcare advocates often point to universal coverage plans and mandates that exist in other countries as something worth emulating here.
In fact, the majority of countries that offer universal coverage do so with a mix of private and public insurance; the exact same as our current system. But the proposed plan is far more extreme, outlawing private insurance all together. Single payer systems throughout the world tend to have greater social inequalities in accessing care, based on wealth and other factors, than does the US. This will be exacerbated in underserved urban neighborhoods and rural areas under a New York single payer scheme, as falling reimbursement rates to hospitals will force poorer medical centers to shut their doors. There are certainly problems with our current system and improvements to make.
They can be done without reinventing the wheel and guaranteeing economic turmoil. Improving our current system and reaching total coverage is a goal everyone can and should get behind. Decimating our economy with massive tax increases and job losses while putting access to our health system in the hands of bureaucrats through government-run healthcare is simply the worst way to approach it.
I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts on this important issue and on behalf of The Business Council and our members.