Cynthia Nixon in her campaign for governor has pushed for the passage of a single-payer health care plan. And this week, speaking to The Daily News editorial board, Nixon turned heads when she was asked how it would be paid for:
“Pass it and then figure out how to fund it,” Nixon said.
“I don't think any of the people who supported the bill have come to grips with how expensive it's going to be,” said Bill Hammond, Empire Center for Public Policy.
Fiscal watchdogs are leery of a single-payer health care program for New York, pointing to a price tag that could be as much as $200 billion. The state's budget alone is $173 billion.
In Vermont, then-Governor Peter Shumlin approved a single-payer plan only to back away from it.
“Over the next several years he really struggled to come up with a detailed plan for putting into effect and when he finally got the price tag, even he who campaigned on it decided it was unaffordable,” said Hammond.
But supporters say it could save money.
“And the way people like to talk about it is, ‘Oh it's an increase in taxes.' Well, we're paying taxes now to the private sector for something everyone has to have,” said Phil Steck, (D) Assembly – Colonie.
As for paying for it, the bill does outline taxes on payroll and income. Nixon's campaign pointed to the bill language itself, noting it would require a plan to pay for it after the bill is approved.
“New York State has a long history where the Legislature does something of that nature and then passes onto the agencies who have greater technical expertise, the development of the revenue plan,” said Steck.
But Assembly Health Committee Chairman Dick Gottfried in a statement disagreed with the Nixon campaign's assessment.
“Anyone who says we’re saying ‘pass it first and figure out how to pay for it later’ is incorrect.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he supports a federal-level single-payer health care system, unlikely to be approved with Republicans firmly in control of Congress and the White House.