NEW YORK NURSE: June 2008
NYSNA has joined a statewide campaign to win universal health care in New York State. Health Care for All New York (www.hcfany.org) is pursuing affordable, comprehensive, and high-quality health care for all New Yorkers by 2010.
NYSNA Deputy Executive Officer Deborah Elliott spoke at the State Capitol on May 6 as part of a rally for single-payer health care sponsored by the Capital District Alliance for Universal Health Care, New Yorkers for Single Payer Universal Health Care, and the Hunger Action Network of New York State. Elliott called for New Yorkers to tell their elected leaders to achieve health care for all and urged the state to adopt a single payer system as soon as possible.
By segregating jobs that require comparable skills, knowledge, and responsibility levels into different job titles, employers can pay less for jobs traditionally held by women and minorities. This practice has been a major contributing factor to compensation inequalities. A woman makes, on average, 76 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
NYSNA supports the New York State Fair Pay Act (A2712/S3936), which will end discriminatory wage practices based on gender, race, or national origin. The State Assembly passed this legislation on March 10, as it has done every year since 2002. However, the bill has stalled every year in the Senate Labor Committee.
A bill now before the State Legislature would create a task force to study and report on ways to provide affordable and reliable health care for retired public employees. The measure (S6457-A/A9393-A) would require a report by June 1, 2009. Prior to this date, public employers would be prohibited from reducing health insurance benefits or increasing costs for retired employees unless a corresponding change was negotiated for current employees.
Effective June 3, the state’s cigarette excise tax increased from $1.50 to $2.75 per pack, making it the highest such tax in the nation. This means the average price for a pack of cigarettes in New York will be just over $7. NYSNA played an active role in promoting this initiative as part of the Coalition for a Tobacco Free New York. The New York State Department of Health estimates that this tax increase will prevent more than 200,000 teenagers from starting to smoke and cause 140,000 current smokers to quit. The increased tax is projected to raise $265 million, much of which will be used for health programs, including those for smoking cessation and prevention.