ALBANY CARE IS COMING: Rockland Residents and Lawmakers Speak Out in Favor of Health Care Legislation

BY JOE KUHN

On Tuesday, the Rockland County Legislature met to vote on amendments to the 2018 county budget and to discuss a number of referrals and resolutions, most notably the Albany push to pass universal health care at the state level. Though efforts to implement universal health care have caused tumult at the national level since the 1960s, the mood toward the idea in New City was overwhelmingly positive.

The meeting began with a series of public comments, most of them concerning Referral number 6546, the Legislature’s efforts to urge the State Senate to pass The New York Health Care Act. A number of concerned citizens, many of them medical professionals, spoke out in favor of the bill, and urged the Legislature to declare their support for the proposed law. The first to speak was Dr. Alan Levine, a psychotherapist who began his comments by lamenting that “most health insurances does not cover mental health treatment” and that “people without insurance don’t even bother calling.”

The doctor believes that “mental health treatment is rationed” under the current system, to the detriment of both those in need of treatment and society as a whole. He argues that better preventive treatment for mental issues could have a substantial positive impact on societal problems like drug addiction. Several local nurses echoed the doctor’s claims during their own comments, noting that preventative treatment is better for patients, as well as cheaper and more efficient for medical care providers regardless of whatever health problem a patient is suffering from. Those with insurance are more likely to visit a doctor before their medical issues worsen, thus keeping themselves healthy and the cost of their care lower.

Dr. Harriet Hudson, a member of Clarkstown Pediatrics, voiced her concern that 43 percent of her patients are covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a Medicaid program that, as of September of this year, has no federal funding. “Without C.H.I.P, these children will be left afloat,” stated Dr. Hudson as she urged the Legislature to pressure the state senate into supporting the bill and providing an alternative insurance plan for those children.

Once public comments were concluded, the Legislature voted unanimously to urge the Senate to pass the New York State Health Care Act.

Read more on New York’s health care bill on page 5