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Suozzi won’t back single-payer health care with tax increase

June 21, 2017

By: 

Noah Manskar
The Island Now

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is not ready to support a single-payer health care plan that comes with an income tax increase, he told constituents Monday night.

While he said a single-payer system, in which the government would cover most health care costs, is ideal on an “academic basis,” Suozzi said his 3rd Congressional District already has too heavy a tax burden to support such a system.

That’s why Suozzi does not support HR676, a House of Representatives bill that would establish a single-payer system.

“I’m not going to sign up blindly for an income tax increase, especially with a bill that is not going to be passed,” Suozzi told more than 75 constituents at a Monday town hall event in Williston Park.

Suozzi, a former Nassau County executive who took office this year, said he supports reforms to the Affordable Care Act that would fix the problems with the landmark health care law often called Obamacare, after former President Barack Obama.

Suozzi made his remarks on health care policy as Republican U.S. senators draft their version of the American Health Care Act, a bill the GOP-controlled House of Representatives passed in May that would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Suozzi voted against that bill and said Monday that he will oppose any plan that causes people to lose their insurance. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said 23 million people would lose coverage under the House-approved bill.

HR676, known as the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act,” would create a national system to cover all “medically necessary” health care expenses, giving Americans the option to get other services covered by private insurers.

To fund the system, the bill would raise income taxes for the top 5 percent of income earners, and institute new taxes on payroll, self-employment income, unearned income and stock and bond transactions.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan) and co-sponsored by 112 of the House’s 193 Democrats, including 14 representatives from New York. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City) is not a co-sponsor.

Suozzi said he is not prepared to sign on to the bill “until we know more details, and until we know how it will be implemented and how much cost would be involved.”

But he acknowledged that, in theory, a single-payer system could be more efficient and reduce health care costs.

Suozzi has faced some local pushback on the single-payer issue from the Democratic Party’s left wing, namely Long Island Activists, a group that supported Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont for president last year. Sanders campaigned on a single-payer health care policy.

Suozzi did not face such a confrontation in Williston Park, where the crowd was smaller than the four previous town halls he has held since February.

Dorian DiLeonardo, an activist with Indivisible Northern Queens, pushed Suozzi to oppose any health care proposals that would leave people uninsured or allow discrimination against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

But she also praised Suozzi’s legislative efforts in his first term.

“We are very grateful and support all of these efforts,” DiLeonardo said.