The New York City Council's vote of support on Tuesday for a statewide single-payer health plan showed curious timing from a fiscal point of view. Two weeks before, sponsors of the New York Health Act told union officials that they were changing the bill in ways that could cost the city billions of dollars per year. Details of these high-stakes changes won't be available until next month, yet Council members chose to back the measure anyway – effectively endorsing a blank check.
The already extraordinary cost of a proposed state-run single-payer health plan jumped even higher this week when the chief sponsor, Assembly Health Chairman Richard Gottfried of Manhattan, announced that it would be expanded to cover long-term care.
In approving the $69 billion merger of CVS and Aetna, the state Department of Financial Services attached a noteworthy condition: The two companies must forward $40 million to the state of New York. It was the second time this year that the Cuomo administration has leveraged its regulatory authority over a health insurance company to extract a large sum of cash.
The latest too-good-to-be-true argument for single-payer comes from Albany City Treasurer Darius Shahinfar, who claims that a government-funded statewide health plan would dramatically reduce property taxes. In reality, the savings for local taxpayers, if any, would likely be a fraction of what Shahinfar estimates. And they would come at the cost of the largest increase in state taxes that New York has ever seen, not to mention wholesale disruption of the entire health-care system.
Analyzing the impact of single-payer health care on New York's hospitals
The debate about a proposed single-payer health plan for New York State has mostly focused on its potential cost. But far less attention has been paid to the radical impact it may have on hospitals and physicians across the state.
In a replay of the notorious Pataki-Rivera deal of 2002, the Cuomo administration has quietly ordered a multi-billion-dollar Medicaid rate increase to hospitals and nursing homes, with the money earmarked to boost employee pay and benefits.
At stake is not only the quality of care for 20 million New Yorkers, but also the fate of a fifth of the economy and the livelihoods of 1.2 million health workers.