Senate passes Women Equality Act, Assembly Health Committee looks at New York’s Health bill

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Assembly Health Committee held its final public hearing on Tuesday about the “New York Health Bill” that will create a universal “single payer” health coverage plan in New York State.

The health coverage bill would replace insurance company coverage, premiums, deductibles, co-pays, provider networks and out-of-network charges. As an alternative, every New Yorker would receive a benefits package with full choices of doctors and other providers, like Medicare.

Under the bill, the program would be paid for by broad-based taxes based on the ability to pay.

The New York Health Bill was introduced by the Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried and Senator Bill Perkins that has been pushing for this legislation for over a decade.

On Monday, lawmakers also passed a historic set of bills. The Senate passed eight of the ten measures of the Women’s Equality Act that was introduced by Governor Cuomo in 2013.

“I can’t think of no greater disservice to women in our state to hold eight bills that will protect women in our state,” Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said.

Lawmakers say the bills passed will protect and enhance women’s rights in the state.

The measures include stopping human trafficking, ensuring equal pay for equal work, combatting sexual harassment in the workplace and ending gender discrimination in employment.

It will also provide stronger protections for domestic violence victims who will be able to electronically file for orders of protection instead of having to appear in court to do so.

A piece of the Women’s Equality Act that was not passed was the controversial bill to expand late term abortion statewide.

“This has been a challenging and difficult topic for many generations,” Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald said. “It has been. It is. It has been and it will continue to be in the future.”

Tuesday morning, Republicans in the Democratic-controlled assembly seized of that momentum.

“Stop with the political games,” Kolb said. “Stop with the nonsense and let’s take up the bills that were passed by the Senate yesterday.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, however, wants it to be taken up as an omnibus bill that would include all ten points of the agenda.

“A woman’s right to control her body is still the number one issue among women in this state; in this country,” he said.

Silver and other democrats said the abortion plank would codify Roe v. Wade. Senate republicans have argued it would lead to an expansion of abortion.

Last session, there weren’t enough votes in the senate to get the abortion plank passed but there are currently more republicans in the Senate.

“I get the big bucks to determine what happens in the assembly,” Silver said. “I can’t read the tea leaves in the Senate.”

The eight measures will be sent to the assembly for approval, though assembly democrats said there’s no rush to get it done, and they could wait until after the budget to take it up.

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