Single Payer Updates from Congress and Albany

From Crain’s….
Fresh off the Democrats' triumph in the House, "Medicare for All" proponents are seizing the moment.
IN THE HOUSE: JAYAPAL TAKES THE LEAD ON MEDICARE FOR ALL — Medicare for All caucus co-founder Rep. Pramila Jayapal will take over as the primary sponsor of the House's longstanding single payer legislation - and is already well into a broad rewrite of the bill, she told POLITICO's Adam Cancryn Tuesday night.
— What it looks like on the Hill: The Washington Democrat is assuming control of the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act from outgoing Rep. Keith Ellison, who took the bill earlier this year from its original author, former Rep. John Conyers.
Jayapal's goal: To update the bill so it's more closely aligned with the Medicare for All bill penned by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
"We're actually turning it into what a Medicare for All plan would look like," she said. "We're pretty far along, but we have another six weeks or so to go."
Democratic leaders are aware of the effort but haven't weighed in yet, Jayapal said. But she's not planning to push for immediate action; once the bill is finished, the next step is working out what she said are key differences with the Sanders bill. She's hoping it keeps the HR. 676 bill number.

Single-Payer Health Care Could Dramatically Cut Property Taxes, Albany City Treasurer Estimates 
By Liz Young  – Reporter, Albany Business Review  November 13, 2018

Switching to a single-payer health care system in New York state could dramatically cut property taxes in Albany, says city treasurer Darius Shahinfar.

"There's these huge property tax savings that are available through single-payer health care. It's no exaggeration to say that passing single-payer health care would be the biggest property tax cut that we've ever had here," Shahinfar said. "We could cut our property taxes by 30 percent tomorrow in the city of Albany between what we're paying on [school district], city and county health care."

Shahinfar has been in charge of the city's finances since 2014. He started researching property taxes and single-payer health care after he realized a significant portion of city, county and school district taxes go toward health care costs.

For example, of $58.6 million in property taxes that the city of Albany expects to collect this year, Shahinfar estimates about 48 percent will go to health insurance costs.

The city of Albany pays for employees' and retirees' health insurance. School districts cover employee health care costs. Counties in New York state cover some Medicaid costs, as well as employee health insurance.

Shahinfar believes some counties in New York state, including Albany County, could potentially get rid of property taxes altogether if a single-payer system was put in place.

Payroll taxes would rise, but the health care savings over time would be greater, he estimates.

"We are wasting so much money on our health care system in this country that could be put to far more effective use," Shahinfar said. "No one is talking about the costs that you save on copays, on deductibles."

Single-payer has gotten a lot of attention in New York recently. The Assembly has passed single-payer legislation, called the New York Health Act, four straight years. With Democrats in control of the state Senate come January, there is a possibility the legislation will pass there as well.

Shahinfar testified before the Assembly in 2015 to share his research on the potential property tax savings of single-payer.

Some business owners and lobbies believe New York should not go it alone in creating a single-payer system. They say businesses would face an increased tax burden and are concerned about a recent study that showed a single-payer system could double the state's budget.

Some of the legislation's advocates have focused on how they believe single-payer would be a moral victory. While Shahinfar, who is a Democrat, agrees, he says there are potential financial benefits that better make the case for the switch.

"For the vast majority of [working New Yorkers], they're going to end up saving money," he said.