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Activists call on state legislative leaders at NYS Fair to pass single-payer health care

Scott Desnoyers.JPG
Ellen Abbott
WRVO Public Media
Scott Desnoyers from Saratoga advocating for the New York Health Act at the NY State Fair.

Activists supporting a single-payer health care system in New York state are taking their case to state lawmakers at the New York State Fair.

Scott Desnoyers from Saratoga carried a big picture of his 29-year-old son Danny to the state fair this week. He wanted the state’s legislative leaders to see the picture, after Danny died last spring when he couldn’t afford a $250 prescription for a medication that if stopped, leads to suicidal thoughts.

"He super-glued his seat belt shut and drove his car into the Mohawk River,” Desnoyers said. “I was pissed. I lost my son because he missed a 20-dollar Medicaid payment."

Denoyers and others want their stories to be the impetus Albany needs to pass the New York Health Act, which would provide comprehensive health care for every New Yorker. Even though a majority of both the Assembly and State Senate co-sponsored the legislation last spring, leaders pulled back from a vote after pressure from insurance companies and labor unions. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he supports the concept of health care guaranteed for all New Yorkers, but at this point, he’s not sure when the legislation will get back on the table.

"There’s still a conversation with members,” Heastie said. “Organized labor needs to be brought to the table, because it’s a significant change."

On the Senate side, Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said they’re still working on it.

"I’ve got members who are working together,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We’ve had one meeting over the past month or so. We’ll have more doing work groups."

Ursula Rozum, co-director of the Campaign for New York Health believes former Gov. Cuomo was one of the biggest obstacles to getting the legislation passed. She’s more optimistic now that Kathy Hochul is governor.

"We see Kathy Hochul as a progressive leader who responds to public pressure,” Rozum said. “And we hope that we can work with her to get the New York Health Act across the finish line."

Denoyers said he won’t stop advocating and dogging politicians with his picture of Danny, until they pass the law.

“I promised Danny at his funeral, I will look lawmakers in the eye, and make them see the consequences of their decision," he said.