- The lawsuit brought by Staten Island Assembly Republicans to prevent the City of New York from destroying IDNYC data upon federal request to review has thankfully failed in a State Supreme Court decision. An appeal is pending, so in the meanwhile you can help dilute the IDNYC database (while reaping the program’s benefits) by signing up for a card here.
- On Friday Cuomo announced a $153 billion state budget deal, which includes provisions to enact Raise the Age and his plan to make public colleges and universities free for students from families making $125,000 or less. The budget also revives the controversial 421-a tax break, fails to tackle any campaign finance or voting reforms, and raises a cap on charter school spending.
- Last night, the state enacted Cuomo’s budget. Many progressive Democrats were disappointed by the compromises made with the IDC. Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins saying in her closing speech that it, “may represent progress, but it isn’t progressive.” Cuomo called the process an “embrace of unity” and praised the IDC for their support passing what Progressive Democrats call a “watered down” Raise the Age bill.
- The Progressive Caucus of City Council, which includes 19 of the city’s 51 council members, released an 18-point policy platform for 2018 – a good barometer for which progressive policies are widely supported.
- City Council pushes De Blasio to expand Citi Bike and fund Fair Fares.
- City prosecutors, judges, and the Mayor have publicly opposed a suggestion to decriminalize prostitution included in the recently released and lauded feasibility study to close Rikers Island Jail.
- NYC’s largest news media outlets are retreating from the outer boroughs and suburbs, and with local newspapers and outlets floundering, it’s unclear if anyone will take their place in holding institutions accountable.
- City Limits covers the dissatisfaction that many nonprofit affordable housing developers feel with De Blasio’s housing plan, who claim it disproportionately benefits for-profit developers with deep pockets.
- The dearth of coverage or communication about a recent oil spill in south Brooklyn’s Gravesend Bay sparked outrage from electeds and activists.
- Documents show NYPD officers accessed Black Lives Matter activists’ text messages, and Cop Watch activist Jose LaSalle released audio of cops cheering his arrest and possibly tampering with evidence against him.
- The Gothamist covers Green Party candidate Jabari Brisport’s campaign against incumbent Laurie Cumbo (District 35, Crown Heights), highlighting his membership in DSA.
- Term-limited Bay Ridge Councilmember Vincent Gentile has thrown his hat into the Brooklyn District Attorney race.
- Inez Barron (District 42, East New York/Brownsville) is being challenged by social entrepreneur Mawuli Hormeku.
- In Manhattan, an NYU student is one of several Democratic contenders to replace term-limited Rosie Mendez (District 2, Lower East Side).
- Union backed candidates sweep Milwaukee School Board elections.
- DSA member Dylan Parker wins a Council seat in Rock Island, IL.
In-Depth: HEALTH CARE BABY
As New Yorkers consider the progress made under the Affordable Care Act as well as its limitations, support and interest in universal and single-payer healthcare has grown. The New York Health Act (NYHA), which would create a statewide, single-payer system, is in State Assembly committee again, after having passed the Assembly in 2015 and 2016 but failing in the Senate. In the last few days of March, the bill picked up critical support, as every member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) announced they would co-sponsor the bill, though their debates at the vote to pass the state budget on April 9th seem to suggest that their support is not sincere.
How the NYHA works: If passed, the Act will expand health coverage to everyone in New York State, while also lowering the amount of money that the state spends on healthcare each year by removing health insurance companies from the equation. Coverage under NYHA would include primary and preventive care, hospital care, prescription drugs, and dental, vision, and hearing care. Patients would see increased choice in healthcare providers by removing network restrictions that limit their ability to see the doctor of their choosing, and 95% of people would spend less money overall on care.
Savings would come from the elimination of copays and deductibles; funds would come from assessments on payroll and non-payroll income, with contributions generated by income and ability to pay. Employers would pay 80% of payroll assessment costs for healthcare, and employees would pay the remaining 20% (those who are self-employed would pay the full payroll assessment). These savings are possible because a single-payer system would reduce the amount of money and time employers spend administering health plan costs, eliminate health insurance companies’ profits, and lower the prices of drug and medical devices, among other things.
Political outlook: Healthcare advocates are hoping that this bill will be more successful than in years past. It is expected to pass the Assembly again this year and gain at least one more Senate vote after a special election in May. However, without support from at least one Senate Republican or Simcha Felder, the sole Democrat who has not co-sponsored the bill, the NYHA will not pass the Senate and will be pushed back to the next legislative session. Rallies in New York City and Albany were held last week to demonstrate to lawmakers that many of their constituents support a single-payer healthcare system and to put pressure on those who do not yet co-sponsor the bill to do so.
The NYC DSA Socialist Feminist Working Group democratically voted to focus on single-payer health care as their initial campaign and yesterday April 9th canvassed for it in Brooklyn’s Bay Ridge. In California, DSA East Bay has chosen to focus on a similar statewide single-payer health care act, SB 562, as their branch-wide campaign.
Why the NYHA matters: Healthcare access and affordability has significant economic, labor, and social justice implications. Medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcies in the US, and at least a third of Americans have not sought treatment for medical care at some point out of fear of the cost. Healthcare is also a labor issue because by breaking the tie between insurance and employment, workers could make more demands without fear for their health or the health of their families. It’s also a feminist issue: women use more healthcare services over the course of their life, giving birth is particularly expensive, and women are more likely than men to be dependent on their spouse’s coverage.
California, Massachusetts, and Vermont have made efforts to implement a statewide single-payer health system, but none of their attempts have come to fruition so far. New York could be instrumental in demonstrating that it is possible for single-payer healthcare to be enacted in the U.S. Successfully implementing a plan that provides non-discriminatory coverage to everyone in one of the most populous states could move the U.S. one step closer to becoming a country where people no longer have to decide between medical care or bankruptcy.