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Politics and Government

Green Party pressures DeFrancisco on single-payer health care

Tom Magnarelli
Green Party activists outside state Sen. John DeFrancisco's office last week.

Green Party candidates in Syracuse are pushing state Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) to support universal health care in New York. The bill could be close to getting a majority of senators to sign on.

Syracuse mayoral candidate Howie Hawkins said DeFrancisco is the only New York state legislator representing the city that is not in favor of a single-payer system.

“We want John to be a hero for Syracuse, because this bill would solve the city’s fiscal crisis,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said single-payer would save the city tens of millions of dollars in health care costs and relieve the burden on counties to pay a portion of Medicaid.  

“We know John DeFrancisco opposes unfunded mandates, here’s his chance to get the biggest one off the county budget,” Hawkins said.

The system would be paid for with federal funds that come to New York, like Medicaid, and a progressively graduated income and payroll tax. Hawkins claims 98 percent of New Yorkers would pay less for health coverage and just the top 2 percent would pay more. And he said the bill, which has passed the Assembly, needs just one more vote to pass the Senate.

But DeFrancisco says he is certain that a majority of state senators actually do not support single-payer.

“Somebody’s got to pay for it and it’s usually the overburdened taxpayer," DeFrancisco said. "If taxpayers in the state of New York believe that they should pay for everybody’s health insurance under all circumstances, if they think they’ve been overtaxed now, it’s going to be a real surprise for them.”

Even if there were enough votes for the bill to pass, Republicans control the Senate and would not have to put it up for a vote.