A universal healthcare pilot program for New York City
Every advanced country in the world has a universal healthcare
system— except the United States. Plainly, what we need is a health
insurance plan that covers everyone, regardless of their ability to
pay. But that effort seems to be stalled at the national level.
So why not try to implement such a plan at the local level? This could
show other cities, states, and eventually the federal government how
to make universal healthcare a reality.
The Labor Party— a close philosophical ally of the Green
Party— has proposed a system called "Just Healthcare." Perhaps
the best thing about the plan is its answer to the eternal question:
"How are we going to pay for it?" Some of the financing proposals include:
* a tax on stock and bond transactions (such as existed
on the New York Stock Exchange until 1984)
* an income tax on the wealthiest five percent of taxpayers
* an employer contribution that might entirely replace
the premiums they now must pay out to private health insurance plans.
All these could be tested out at the local level here
in New York. Money raised in this pilot program could be used to establish
a Healthcare Trust Fund.
Much of the appeal of this program is that it could
demonstrate how efficient and cost-effective other, similar programs
have been. The Social Security Trust Fund, for example, is run with
only about one percent administration costs— which compares very favorably
with the 20 percent or so spent on administration by most private health
insurance companies. Also, the advantage of doing it in New York City
is obvious: we could say to the rest of the country, in effect, "Hey,
if we can do it in New York, we can do it anywhere."