Unions Fight New York Single-Payer Health Care Plan

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo / Getty Images
November 29, 2018

Public-sector unions in New York are pushing back against legislation that would establish a single-payer health care plan for the state.

The New York Health Act has received pushback from labor leaders who gathered in New York City on Monday to express their concerns, particularly that their 380,000 members would have fewer insurance options, Politico reports.

New York City labor leaders gathered in the Lower Manhattan offices of District Council 37 Monday to relay their concerns about the bill to its sponsors, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, several sources familiar with the meeting told POLITICO. The conflict puts unions at odds with an issue popular in the liberal wing of the Democratic party.

The New York Health Act would "provide universal insurance coverage with no copays, deductibles or premiums for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status," Politico previously reported. The measure would require a 156 percent increase in tax revenue for the state, an increase of $139 billion by 2022. The proposed legislation has passed in the Assembly for the past four years but has stalled in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Labor leaders are concerned the act would remove their collective bargaining power against the city. The Monday meeting to discuss concerns was attended by approximately 150 people, according to attendee Greg Floyd, president of Teamsters Local 237.

Gottfried, one of the bill's sponsors, says city workers will benefit from the act, promising "more services covered, more prescription drugs covered and when the bill is reintroduced in 2019, it will be broadened even more."

Union leaders expressed concerns about the end of the city's roughly $1500-per-employee contribution, which they put toward a union welfare fund. The plan covers expenses like prescription drugs, hearing aids and glasses.

"Each union sets up its own welfare fund plan and it’s funded through the contributions," Floyd said, "and if you don’t have the contributions, you don’t have the welfare fund."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) has called the bill  a "very exciting possibility" but has said it would be "easier to implement" on the federal level.