UE’s Eastern Region has endorsed the NY Health Act, legislation to provide health care to every New Yorker through a public, Medicare-for-All style system.

The legislation is “everything we’ve been asking for,” Region President George Waksmunski told the UE NEWS. “No co-pays, deductibles, premiums, network restrictions or out-of-pocket maxes, and you won’t lose your house or your life savings if you have to go into a nursing home.”

The New York Health Act would create a public system that would provide comprehensive, universal health coverage for every New York resident and worker, replacing existing private insurance company coverage. It would also cover long-term care (nursing homes and home health care), ending the current absurd approach that requires people to impoverish themselves to be eligible for long-term care services through Medicaid.

Waksmunski also noted that the act would give workers more power at the bargaining table. “We need to take health care out of the hands of the employers who use it to bludgeon us in contract negotiations and when we’re making a decision about whether to go on strike for better wages and benefits,” he said.

The region’s newly established Political Action Committee took the lead on the endorsement process. Committee members Dominic Harris, Local 150 and Bryan Pietrzak, Local 506, along with Waksmunski, met with representatives from the Campaign for New York Health last fall. Following the meeting, and working with fourth committee member John Miles, Local 506, the committee sought an endorsement from the region’s executive board. Following the endorsement, the region sent information to UE’s locals in New York state encouraging them to discuss and endorse the legislation.