New York State Assembly expected to pass bill to bring single payer health care to Empire State


On Tuesday, the New York State Assembly is scheduled to vote on Assembly Bill A4738 — the so-called New York Health Plan — a bill that, if signed into law, would make the Empire State the first in the nation to give its residents single-payer health care. 

Just as it did in 2015 and 2016, the measure is expected to easily pass the assembly by an overwhelming majority. And just as it did for the past two years, the bill has a difficult road ahead of it in the New York State Senate.

But this year, the bill has already won a crucial victory: For the first time ever, the move to bring single-payer to the state of New York has been cosponsored by every single member of the Independent Democratic Caucus, a controversial gang of Democrats in the New York State Senate that does not caucus with their party. This faction, along with a lone Democrat that caucuses with New York's GOP, has helped Republicans in New York's State Senate to thwart Democratic lawmakers' efforts in the past, despite the party's hair-thin majority in the state senate.

With the crucial support of the IDC already guaranteed, the single-payer bill is expected to need only one more vote to pass in the Senate. 

“A single-payer system would create the peace of mind that residents could have access to quality medical care including outpatient and inpatient medical care, primary and preventive care, prescription drugs and laboratory tests,” New York State Senator Jeffrey Klein, leader of the IDC and cosponsor of the bill said in a statement to the Huffington Post.

Despite polls showing most Americans want single-payer health care, efforts to pass it on the state level have stumbled toward the finish line. In 2014, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin turned on his state's attempt to bring Medicare for all to the Green Mountain state — a humiliating symbolic defeat for other nascent, national single-payer efforts, given Vermont's reputation as a bastion for progressive politics in America. 

In early May, the American Health Care Act passed in the House of Representatives, which is estimated to kick 24 million Americans off their current health insurance and drive up costs for people with pre-existing conditions.

In April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo won a crucial victory for progressives when the state became the largest in the nation to offer free college to its residents. When Mic asked whether he supported the effort to bring single-payer health car — perhaps the keystone of American progressive policy — to New York, a representative from Cuomo's office said "we will review the bill."