Bay Ridge

Healthcare bill a Golden chance, protesters say

Demonstrators hold rally at state senator’s office

June 2, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
More than 100 protesters rallied outside the office of state Sen. Marty Golden to call for passage of a health care bill. Photos courtesy of Fight Back Bay Ridge

As the U.S. Senate considers a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the divisive issue of health care is also taking center stage in New York, with a Brooklyn state senator coming under increasing pressure from Democratic activists pushing him to vote in favor of legislation to create a single-payer, Medicare-for-all-type of system.

More than 100 demonstrators held a protest rally outside state Sen. Marty Golden’s district office at 7408 Fifth Ave. on May 31 to demand that Golden, a Republican-Conservative, move the New York Health Act forward.

The bill, which was approved by the New York State Assembly two weeks ago, needs only one more vote in the senate to be moved from committee to the floor for a vote.

The demonstrators said they want Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) to be that vote.

“Sen. Marty Golden has the chance to be a hero for our community by revolutionizing health care in our state,” protest organizer Sarah Zorn said in a statement. “If he releases the bill from committee to a floor vote before the end of the legislative session, he would ensure that New Yorkers are guaranteed the coverage they deserve.”

The current legislative session concludes at the end of this month.

The demonstration was organized by two grass-roots organizations: South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance and Fight Back Bay Ridge.

The co-sponsors included Campaign for New York Health, NYC DSA, NY Health Act Now, #GetOrganizedBK, Bay Ridge Democrats, Brooklyn ReSisters, Rally for Healthcare, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, Social Alternative, Gray Panthers, New York 17th District for Progress and Green Party of Brooklyn.

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The New York Health Act would allow New York state to enact a first-in-the-nation universal, single-payer health care system, according to protest organizers, who said passage of the measure would protect New Yorkers from the impact of a federal bill repealing and replacing the ACA.

In response to the demonstration, Golden issued a statement to the Brooklyn Eagle in which he praised the passion of the protesters, but did but reveal which way he would vote.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to voice his or her opinions regarding the health care act.  It was encouraging to witness the passion and enthusiasm of all who participated in the demonstration. Affordable health is extremely important to New York state and it deserves a lively debate like the one presented in front of my office,” Golden said in the statement.

In April, the House passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would keep many of the ACA’s popular provisions, like prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions, but would allow states to opt out of the regulations under certain conditions. The AHCA passed on a strict, party-line vote by Republicans. No Democrat voted in favor of it.

The U.S. Senate plans to take up the AHCA, although it’s not clear when a vote would be taken.

With the air of uncertainty in Washington, New York activists are stepping up their efforts to get a health care bill passed here to protect people who would lose their health insurance because of the AHCA.

The New York Health Act would provide all residents with comprehensive care (primary coverage, specialists, mental health, vision, dental and prescription drugs) on a graduated income scale, according to supporters of the bill. The legislation would also eliminate deductibles and co-pays.

The program would be financed by the state, most likely through tax increases.


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