New York Assemblyman Richard Gottfried on Thursday introduced legislation to implement a single-payer health care system in the state, a proposal commonly referred to as "Medicare for all."
The measure did not come as a surprise to many local political observers. Gottfried has been proposing a universal taxpayer-funded healthcare system for years.
But the Democratic lawmaker insisted at a press conference that this year was "really a superb year to refocus" on a single-payer system. In the past years, most advocacy groups and lawmakers have been focused on federal health care reform, he said.
State Sen. Bill Perkins (D) admitted at the press conference that passing a single-payer system would be no easy task.
“Listen, let’s be for real: There are a lot of monied interests that are involved in this,” he said. “The privatized model is about profit; it’s about paying for policies that do not necessarily speak to the best interests of the community, to the best interests of people. And therefore, to some extent it measures how valuable this is — because there’s so much effort over the years to prevent (the bill) from even getting to daylight.”
Under a single-payer system, the state would pay for health care costs using a tax-payer funded insurance pool, similar to how Medicare operates at the federal level. The state of Vermont plans to implement a single-payer system by 2017. The California legislature approved a single-payer bill in 2008, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.