Negotiations needed for NY Health Act to move in Assembly

By Published On: January 26th, 2023Categories: Capitol Notes

Legislation paving the way for a state takeover of the health insurance industry isn’t going anywhere in the Assembly until supporters of the measure quell longstanding concerns of organized labor.

“The unions are very opposed to (the New York Health Act) and we have to work that out,” Assembly Health Committee Chair Amy Paulin told The Capitol Pressroom. “They’re our partners. They have healthcare. You don’t want to leave them out of the conversation.”

This dynamic also plagued the previous head of the Assembly Health Committee, Dick Gottfried, who carried the bill for decades and was unable to move this sweeping legislation through the chamber in recent years. The legislation had not been reintroduced early in the 2023 legislative session, but Paulin is expected to be the new sponsor when it is formally introduced.

The Westchester County Democrat indicated she would not move the bill through her committee until the reservations of organized labor are resolved.

“I don’t like to move bills until I know they’re ready,” she said. “So this way, I have the control over the amendments and going forward.”

“I don’t anticipate moving the bill until I have some resolution of some of the problems,” Paulin said.

While the New York Health Act made it through the Assembly in the past, it has not received a floor vote since Democrats took control of the state Senate in 2019 and established one-party rule in Albany. The measure has not received a committee or floor vote in the state Senate in more than a decade.

In 2021, Gottfried told The Capitol Pressroom that he felt public supporters of the measure in the state legislature were privately working to undermine the bill. At the time, based solely on the number of Assembly and Senate Democratic sponsors of the legislation, there were enough votes to pass the measure through both houses.

“It’s kind of annoying that these are apparently Assembly members who are telling the public, and me, that they’re all for the bill, but are privately going to the speaker saying, ‘Oh, not really,’” Gottfried said in June of 2021.

Moving forward, the Manhattan Democrat said, “Marches and rallies and the like, I think are very important, as a way of helping to light fires under both advocacy groups and legislators. Lighting that kind of fire is going to be very essential to getting this bill done.”

Noise for this progressive priority has diminished to a whisper around Planet Albany in recent months, as the measure has been drowned out by advocacy for housing changes, raising the minimum wage and criminal justice issues.