Testimony before the Assembly Committees on Health, Insurance, and Labor, December 8, 2006.
The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) is the professional association for registered professional nurses (RNs) in New York State. NYSNA is the oldest and largest state nurses association in the nation and represents the interests of the approximately 247,000 RNs licensed to practice in New York and the patients they serve. The mission of the New York State Nurses Association is to support and enhance the practice of the RN and improve the public's health by providing leadership in changing the healthcare environment.
The current healthcare structure in New York is fundamentally flawed. Significant disparities and gaps in coverage are inherent in a system where the majority of patients are covered by diverse employer health plans and where private, for-profit insurance companies drive fee schedules that seldom reflect the actual expenses of services rendered.
Because of this patchwork system, New Yorkers who have health coverage may be denied care that is excluded from their policy packages or unavailable from their network providers. Thousands of patients who have insufficient or no health insurance coverage often find the cost of care to be prohibitive. Patients are increasingly foregoing necessary health care or are clogging emergency rooms for otherwise preventable or primary care issues. It has been demonstrated in national studies that health coverage based on private, for-profit insurance companies is extremely expensive and does not improve the quality of health care.
The New York State Nurses Association is a strong advocate of universal health care at both the national and state levels. In October 2006, NYSNA joined the Healthcare-NOW Coalition, a movement of organizations committed to a national quality healthcare system with single-payer financing. NYSNA has also upheld the work of Rekindling Reform, a joint project of more than 65 organizations in New York State aimed at moving our nation toward affordable quality health care for all. NYSNA supports legislation that would institute universal health care in New York. In 2006, NYSNA supported legislation, Assembly 6576 and Senate 3459, to establish the New York Health Plan, which would be financed through employer and employee contributions in combination with the current governmental expenditures usually associated with Medicaid and Medicare.
It is critical that New York reform its dysfunctional system in favor of one that guarantees health care access to all New Yorkers. Access to comprehensive, quality, affordable, culturally-competent, community-based health care is a right, not a privilege, and must no longer be a function of income or employment status, age, or health. Any universal health care plan implemented in New York must incorporate several key elements:
An efficient, equitable healthcare delivery and payment system is needed to eliminate health disparities related to gender, age, race, ethnicity, education and income levels, disability, geographic location, and sexual orientation. New York’s current system is irreparable; universal health care is the solution. The New York State Nurses Association urges the legislature to make comprehensive and affordable health care available to all New Yorkers now.
For more information, contact Governmental Affairs at 518.782.9400, ext. 283 or by e-mail.