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Op-Ed: We Need to Pass the New York Health Act Now

Brent O’Leary volunteering at Elmhurst Hospital at the height of the pandemic in 2020

March 23, 2021 Op-Ed By Brent O’Leary

In our second year of pandemic life, having lost over half a million Americans lives, we face a cycle of surge and mutation alongside a significant burden of illness and deaths for years to come.

There has never been a more compelling time for health reform. We need to pass the New York Health Act now.

The New York Health Act will provide comprehensive health care coverage for every person who lives or works full time in New York State.

It is all too apparent how staggering injustices baked into our pre-pandemic norms cost us tremendously. While life expectancy dropped last year, that figure is twice as high for Latinos and three times higher among Black Americans. Our broader economy does not escape the generational damage done by deep-rooted disparities.

We need a functional healthcare infrastructure and to achieve that, decades of disinvestments aimed at our vulnerable communities must stop.

Our healthcare system fails at its most basic functions, despite being expensive and accelerating in cost.

Consider how patient care is based on insurance status instead of care standards. Basic benefits like paid sick days or parental leave are at discretion of employers.

Life choices like the freedom to work independently or start a business is limited because of fear of losing coverage or access to preferred providers. These arrangements are discordant with health goals or the needs of a rapidly changing workforce.

Despite increasing health insurance coverage, fewer people can afford care because of skyrocketing premiums, deductibles, and co-pays.

Brent O’Leary is a candidate running for the 26th district council seat

The result is delays in seeing a doctor until illness has progressed and require more intervention, by which point treatment is cost prohibitive. Profit tracks alongside illness severity, so that even the wealthy are just one accident or diagnosis away from significant asset loss.

This system is breaking our clinicians and healthcare workforce. Physicians increasingly can’t practice independently and find themselves expendable in a revenue-driven environment whose goals are at odds with health and wellness. Administrative tasks tied to insurance arrangements mean clinicians spend less and less time with patients.

The very subsidies that were designed to support our poorest zip codes are instead diverted to private hospitals serving the fewest but wealthiest patients. During a pandemic many healthcare workers were furloughed while community clinics and primary care practices were forced to close.

All of these are underscored by record profits at the height of the coronavirus emergency by insurance and hospital corporations, all consolidating to outcompete each other over the price of care. When profits are driven by disease and suffering, patients are no longer healthcare consumers. Patients in this system are products whose health status are commoditized.

The practice of profiteering off our suffering must stop. We must reclaim our resources.

Poll after poll show that New Yorkers support the ideas in the New York Health Act. Meaningful health reform is possible with this key legislation. It passed in our State Assembly four times. We must do it again and get it passed in the State Senate.

The New York Health Care Act by providing health care to all New Yorkers takes on the inequities and injustices in our healthcare system that were exploited by this coronavirus. It re-allocates resources to serve all New Yorkers, not just the wealthy.

It ensures access to primary care services, medically necessary testing, prescribed treatments and vaccines. Benefits such as parental or sick leave will no longer be tied to employment status or wealth and it removes the massive administrative overhead and bureaucracy, re-aligning the relationship of nurses and physicians back to patients.

It represents a shift in emphasis from illness-based care to preventive primary care, and focuses on helping New Yorkers achieve our most optimal health and well-being.

Balancing the New York State budget should not fall on the backs of the working class. To put this imperative into context, tremendous pressure on our healthcare system will only grow in the new Covid normal.

Worse, the social and economic corollaries from widening gaps in equity, access and affordability are being eclipsed by emergent crises. Exponential change can’t be addressed by conventional means. Equitable healthcare legislation is a bold and necessary action to safeguard our future.

For practicality, healthcare reform belongs to broader strategic conversations. Decades of brutal austerity measures devastated not just our public health infrastructure, it also destroyed other safety nets that we each paid into for just such events like a pandemic or extreme weather, when only a robust government response can protect us all.

New Yorkers deserve equitable opportunities toward health. We are at an inflection point. Serious threats will continue to push our healthcare system to the brink of collapse. I echo our Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi in asserting that this pandemic is both tragedy and testament to what can change when the will is there. I join this broad and rapidly growing coalition and movement, to demand fiscal equity and enact meaningful reform in healthcare.

Our strength in District 26 lies in our diversity, and we are only as strong as our most vulnerable. We owe ourselves and our youngest New Yorkers a shot at equitable opportunities towards health and wealth. The time to act is now. Join us in getting the New York Health Care Act passed.

Brent O’Leary is a candidate running for City Council in the 26th District

email the author: [email protected]

38 Comments

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Sarcastic Pessimist

Mr. O’Leary’s take on Medicare for All is misleading and ill informed even though he changes the name and localizes its impact. I thought Tiffany Caban’s take on healthcare was bad, this is worse.

First and foremost, I doubt you “volunteered” during the height of the pandemic. You may have delivered PPE, but no way any hospital, especially one in one of the epicenters in the country would have let you or anyone volunteer in a hospital due to the liability.

Second, I will address the misleading information you posted.

“This system is breaking our clinicians and healthcare workforce. Physicians increasingly can’t practice independently and find themselves expendable in a revenue-driven environment whose goals are at odds with health and wellness. Administrative tasks tied to insurance arrangements mean clinicians spend less and less time with patients.”

Healthcare is a part of the service industry and not an entitlement. (Exception to the chronically ill and children). For doctors in both private practice and in a hospital setting, if you cannot see and treat a certain number of patients where in, you can’t cover overhead to pay for your office space and staff then you are expendable. The private practice would shut down and the hospital employed doctor will be fired. Its fair and basic economics. In regards to decreased patient time due to “administrative tasks tied to insurance arrangements,” this is a lie. Patients cannot be seen unless their insurance is verified and this is done by the administrative staff. But the notion of less patient time will be in fruition once they implement this healthcare for all nonsense. Imagine how may patients have to be seen in a given day in order to maintain operations within an office or hospital with a government based healthcare. You will get a low quality of care, longer waits, and an overworked and under appreciated staff. And lets see who will control reimbursement rates? Could it be the government too? But if you takeaway this evil “for profit” dogma, how else are you going to get hospitals equipment, medicine, staff? Higher and higher taxes, except for the working class, of course. Thats fair?

“The very subsidies that were designed to support our poorest zip codes are instead diverted to private hospitals serving the fewest but wealthiest patients. During a pandemic many healthcare workers were furloughed while community clinics and primary care practices were forced to close.”

I read the study and its flawed because the private hospitals have more beds than public hospitals and needed more subsidies during COVID for the extra staff and supplies. And private hospitals don’t serve just the wealthy. Stop with your divisiveness with the haves and have nots. Physicians, nurses, techs risked their lives for over a year and worked more hours in a week than you ever have in order to save lives while worrying about spreading it to their loved ones at home; those who chose not to work as they had co-morbidities or could not risk infecting family at home, had to be furloughed because it was cost effective. All the equipment, over time, extra man power from nurses and doctors from other states and medicine weren’t free. The belt had to be hastened. These furloughs in hospitals were only temporary, while private practice took a heavy hit. And for you to complain about clinics and PCP offices closing during the pandemic is misleading. All these clinics were closed to PREVENT FROM SPREADING THE VIRUS. Common sense! And this was temporary! These clinics began to open before the summer of last year. Stop with the deception.

“Volunteering” during COVID in a hospital doesn’t make you an expert on policy and know what’s best for everyone, so don’t mislead the public with your uniformed ideas. Its pretty obvious you are scouring for votes and the easiest to manipulate are those who are or still recuperating from a tragedy of a lost loved one, so shame on you and the rest of your political cohorts.

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Victor

Healthcare really needs to be for all. Not the middle class paying for the poor. People who have jobs that don’t provide insurance are getting screwed because they pay for the poor with their taxes and can’t afford it on their own. A single person making $60,000 a year shouldn’t pay $600 month with a crummy deductable. That’s not sustainable in a city with rents and real estate this high. Healthcare needs to be truly for everyone including the middle class and above.

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Victor doesn’t get it

Who do you think will pay for the universal healthcare ? The middle class. There will always be private doctors for the rich, but why should the middle class get the same healthcare as the poor when we put into the system or have our own private insurance? It’s like this nonsense where politicians want to control who our neighbors are by placing the poor and homeless in our neighborhoods. It’s a capitalist society. The harder we work the more we earn and have the right to choose where to live. The same for healthcare. Why should we lower our standards? There are neighborhood clinics to help the poor.

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Socialism does not work

Sorry Victor, but here in the US we make our own way. Socialized medicine = long lines.

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Victor

The point I’m making is that the middle class shouldn’t be footing the bill and still maybe getting less.

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Except in all countries that have it

I agree, we should trust the insurance companies. They have our best interests at heart.

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Fox targets the gullible

Shhhh- We elect a government which is for the people by the people. Read your constitution.

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Trump redistributed taxpayer wealth to give everyone free money

You returned your stimulus checks right?

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ABoondy

LIAR! I never had to wait in long lines at the hospital when i worked in Toronto. their healthcare system is leaps and bounds better than the trash we have.

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SMH

Standard checkup? Elective procedure? Please be specific before yo mislead. Then why do 2/3 of Canadians have private insurance?

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The final act Fox lawsuit begins

Hashtagger Anankastic Fox Propagandist-To answer your obnoxiously asked question- In Canada certain medical expenses are not covered, like dental care, vision care, prescription medication, podiatry and chiropractics. Often, employers offer supplemental private health insurance to their employees to cover some of the expenses that are not covered under the public healthcare plan.

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How come you never answer questions?

I see you get your information from Wiki. If the Canadian healthcare system is so strong than why do hospitals need to do fundraising to get better eqipment?

And answer this how do you know a national healthcare will work in the US? A real answer please. Not because it works in other countries.

Maple Leafs Fan

To Final act – Thank you for posting accurate details. Fox News and its pundits have been stating the fact that Canadians carry private insurance as well, but using that fact in a misleading fashion in a misinformation campaign.

Accused of not answering with an answer then told what to answer with

To OCD- Your question was answered clearly and fully. You asked why and the commenting party told you why! Now you’re back to posting with “ flight of ideas” which is an actual thought disorder. How do you know a form of socialized medicine wouldn’t work? And don’t use facts to support this claim. Two can play at this game.

Mac

How come- You personally attacked Victor for having an opinion different than yours. You jump from comment to comment with bullying tactics. You’re the one who doesn’t answer questions then accuse someone of not answering when they supplied a legitimate answer to what appeared to be legitimate question presented by you. Now you’re telling others what supporting facts they can present in this comment stream. You obviously took that delusional victory lap of yours way too early.

Fox targets gullible compulsives

Wow it looks like somebody just got woke to the fact his propaganda network duped him, once again.

Debunked.

Here’s the explanation. We have to much expenditures in healthcare already where spending on healthcare has out paced our economy even so now with COVID. Changing the system overnight would be disastrous for the economy. I’ll break it down for Fox News Boy. The current system right now is too bloated. Unless we had a surplus of money which we don’t (thanks in part to spend spend Obama), there is so much specialized care in the US that costs billions of dollars to maintain we can’t sustain them if we transition to universal healthcare. We have the most cancer cases in the world, and cardiovascular disease is still a leading cause of death in the US. Both oncology and cardio thoracic fields have a lot of expenditures. Unless they start increasing the tax rate to double or triple the current rates, this will never happen. And once you start increasing taxation, the millionaires and billionaire will leave. Those who stay will find tax loopholes, and I don’t blame them. And who will foot the bill? The middle class. And with the government spending more and more, what comes of it? Inflation.

What’s gong to cause long lines ? Less doctors because they would leave the field. Government controlled healthcare will lead to over regulation on how to practice. Malpractice will go up because more people will be more liable to sue. And there will be a severe drop in income. But what about Canada?Doesn’t the VA pay doctors well? We have more doctors compared to Canada. VA docs have a lower salary compared to other docs. Do you think the US especially if liberal progressives are in control want so many doctors making so much money? They have to think of their mantra of equity and equality. Low pay, higher chance of getting sued, more regulation… a doctors dream.

And Mac where are you when Jimmy is getting bashed in the other articles? You must be crying inside. Don’t lecture me on anything old man. You call my tactics bullying while you’ve called someone a windbag because he said something you didn’t like. Or you can be classy like Fox News Boy who called a dead man a slob because he was a conservative. And Victor, do you understand now? See how dangerous your rhetoric is without knowing the facts. Liberals are pushing this equity and equality nonsense. They are begging for the poor and working class for their votes. O’Leary said he did not want the working class to pay for universal healthcare. Who do you think the onus will go to? Your opinion is valuable don’t get me wrong because you started a discussion. But in the climate that we are in where these progressives are systematically destroying our country with their socialistic propaganda, you have to be careful.

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Your propaganda is debunked once again

@Debunked- You gave yourself 8 thousand thumbs up with a plug in. Warped. Your statement about millionaires and billionaires fleeing doesn’t meet up with facts truth and reality and is a fear tactic used by right wing for decades and has never materialized. High taxed places in the US obviously produce the most. New York City is the world’s only city with more than 100 billionaires, according to Wealth-X. Wealth-X noted there are more billionaires in New York City than almost every country in the world, with the exception of China and Germany. Los Angeles has 44 Billionaires and San Francisco has 77 Billionaires Jul 2, 2020
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.businessinsider.com/where-do-billionaires-live-top-cities-worldwide-ranked-2019-5%3famp
The most millionaires in US are in the highest taxed states. Naples Florida makes the list because millionaires retire too. Nobody makes millions there they bring it with them.
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.kiplinger.com/investing/601615/where-millionaires-live-in-america%3famp

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Not so much. You just got served...again and agaim

Here’s a more recent article. Not only are the wealthy leaving NYC, they are leaving Silicon Valley, as well. It’s the same problems there as it is here. High taxes, high crime, homeless everywhere…. that and it helps if we had a business oriented mayor who sees that a successful economy helps everyone and not just a social justice warrior who hasn’t done anything to improve the city’s economy and instead makes murals.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/29/technology/join-us-in-miami-love-masters-of-the-universe.html?campaign_id=61&emc=edit_ts_20210129&instance_id=26559&nl=the-great-read&regi_id=47386799&segment_id=50619&te=1&user_id=51d30fde2ddabf0aad1d3056ea876933

I don’t need a thumbs up to validate my arguments. I know you are insecure that’s why you always use your scapegoat of Fox News, Fox News, Fox News just to get a reaction. Nice try though, at least you bring information unlike your buddy. Btw I don’t post in every article so don’t assume it’s me. Your paranoia is amusing. The more your agenda moves to the far left, the more vocal people get. It’s not just me.

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Socialism obviously does work

Germany, Australia, Sweden, Canada, Netherlands, Ireland, Iceland, Scotland, England, Norway just to name a few all have healthcare access for all its citizens. All live longer and healthier then Americans for much less in costs and no bankruptcies or lines. What is your definition of socialism, the Fox News and its insurance company backers definition?

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Debunked... again

These are healthy countries compared to ours where every street has some sort of fast food chain. These countries also have tax rates over 40%. Are you ready for that? The majority of these healthcare systems are bankrupt, even with heavy taxation. MSNBC, Twitter, and Instagram didn’t tell you that, huh?

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Mac

WOW – Hashtagger, they are right about your OCD.. How many posts do you have on this comment stream? You’re a one man propaganda machine. You’re being ripped off by paying 32 times more then the rest of the world pays for healthcare. Fact ! A tax by another name.

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#Proverbs6.16

Debunked – If you heard it on Fox, it’s probably a lie. Fox is being called on its lies.

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Tens of millions with no healthcare is better then a short wait?

Socialism is when the government owns the hospitals and employs the medical staff. Like the VA.

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Still winning

I destroyed your comment on the free healthcare in the Canadian and European countries. You’re just not too bright to see it.

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Even though you did not substantiate one fact

@still winning- You had the best win in any debate anyone’s ever seen. You’ve obviously read and live by the art of the deal.hahaha

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Socialism works now

If anything, your lack of knowledge on the subject has swayed me to the socialize medicine side of the debate.

Still winning.

Facts don’t need to be substantiated. That’s why they are called facts. You just read them and comprehend.

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