Sleepy Hollow — On Thursday, January 25, 2018 the Robert Kesten, Candidate for the 40th Senate District in New York State held its first, in a series of, Town Hall meetings, open to the public, exploring the future of healthcare for New York.
The Town Hall was held at the James F. Galano Building located at 55 Elm Street in Sleepy Hollow and was hosted by Indivisible Sleepy Hollow. Kesten opened the event with a discussion of healthcare costs, the NYS Assembly legislation on Single Payer and the impact it would have on costs.
The conversation between Kesten and the audience, of over 50 citizens from across Westchester County, reviewed costs, discussed the need for education on the topic and finding ways to help people understand the benefits of Medicare for all, a single payer system that doesn’t require any changes in the way doctors, hospitals or other healthcare providers operate. It is not socialized medicine, doctors and nurses will not become employees of the state, but remain in the private and or nonprofit sector as they currently are.
“Our first Town Hall on Healthcare attracted a nice group of people from across the senate district and across the county,” State Senatorial Candidate Robert Kesten shares. “Thank you all for coming. We touched on a great number of issues…everyone had the opportunity to voice their concerns. The audience had non-affiliated voters, Democrats and Republicans in attendance; healthcare is important to everyone regardless of party. That was loud and clear.”
The discussion moved on to the impact healthcare costs, rising faster than the cost of living (with an expected 18% rise this year), have on property taxes. With the bulk of Westchester property taxes going to cover the cost of schools, and a large part of the school budgets tied to healthcare costs for active and retired teachers, there would be a dramatic decrease in school budgets, municipal worker costs and other payments covered through property taxes. Taxes no longer fully tax deductible according to the new Federal Tax Law.
Many in the group, were intrigued by the amount of money the state would save in one year. The University of Massachusetts, Amherst study suggests a savings of $45 billion a year, while the Urban Institute results claim a minimum savings of $20 million per year.
“It is time for the State Senate to put this legislation, approved by the State Assembly three years in a row, on the floor and debate it so all New Yorkers know what it would mean to them. Imagine, never having to worry about healthcare costs, never being one illness, one accident away from financial devastation. This could be our reality, while we save billions of dollars.” Said Kesten. “It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant and keep our eyes on the Department of Health, making sure there is no waste and no fraud, but the advantages are clear and the benefits immense.”
With growing support from business, labor and healthcare professionals, maybe the time has come for Medicare for All. Currently the USA is the only Western industrial nation without such a system in place, a system that makes their businesses more competitive and keeps their citizens healthier, all while keeping the costs of healthcare manageable.
Kesten closed by reminding the audience that change like this only comes with full citizen engagement. “No single elected official is going to do this alone, but a legislator with an army of citizens behind them can change New York and New York can change the nation.”