media
May 07, 2007

BALCONY: Affordable Health Care Forum May 10th features NYS Director of Health Insurance Programs Judith Arnold, Vermont State Senator Jim Leddy, health care providers, national experts and advocates

Source: BALCONY: Business and Labor Coalition of New York

ALBANY, NY -- (05/07/2007) -- Health care experts, providers, advocates, and small business leaders from across the nation will debate perspectives on Affordable Health Care for all New Yorkers at the BALCONY Universal Health Care Forum hosted by the Business and Labor Coalition of New York www.balconynewyork.com. The conference, which will be held at the Empire State Plaza Meeting room 7, has been designed to facilitate cross-disciplinary conversation, with short and pithy presentations followed up by question and answer sessions.

"The goal of obtaining universal health care insurance for all New York's residents impacts all of the participants in our health care system, doctors, patients, insurers, providers and taxpayers. The agreement by Governor Spitzer and the legislature to expand New York's Child Health Plus program increasing eligibility to 400% of poverty, insuring 400,000 children is a step in the right direction. We need to build on that momentum to develop a plan that can foster not only healthy citizens but also a healthy New York economy," stated Dr. James Melius, BALCONY Executive Board Member and administrator of the New York State Laborers Employers Cooperation Education Trust - LECET.

The featured luncheon panel on Health Care Initiative Around the Nation , will have a keynote address by former Vermont State Senator Jim Leddy, co- chair of the Vermont Health Care Reform Commission and founder of Coalition 21, a business and labor alliance in that state. Joining Senator Leddy on this panel will be Lucien Wulsin, Project Director of the Insure the Uninsured, who will detail California Health Care Reform efforts. Rachel Rosen DeGolia , Universal Health Care Action Network, will present a roundup of national efforts at health care reform.

The Forum opens with a panel on the Challenges Facing Health Care Providers featuring New York State Department of Health Director of Insurance Programs Judith Arnold. She will discuss the state's efforts to cover the 2.8 million uninsured New Yorkers. Also speaking is Steven Boyle CEO of St. Peters Hospital in Albany, who will focus on the impact of care for the uninsured on hospital finances.

"We are concerned that the cost for workers' health care coverage is a significant problem for small businesses, one that often saps their competitiveness," stated BALCONY Co-Chairman Bruce Ventimiglia, Chairman of Saratoga Capital Management, LLC "By gathering together advocates from other states and critically examining the details of rival proposals, BALCONY hopes to inspire New York State legislators to take action before our health care system becomes too moribund to fix."

Strategies to Achieve Affordable Health Care is another morning panel that brings Health Care experts from across the nation including : Mark Blum , Managing Director of America's Agenda: Health Care for All, Robert Hayes, President of the Medicare Rights Center, Richard Kirsch, executive Director of Citizen Action of New York and Jeffrey Lewis , President of the Heinz Family Philanthropies.

"The members of BALCONY sense that there is growing consensus on this issue, and growing impatience in the elected officials who have overlooked the health care crisis or killed it in committee," says BALCONY Co-Chairman Alan Lubin. "This conference puts policy specialists and working legislators in the same room as small business owners and representatives from organized labor. Let the dialogues begin."

BALCONY's mandate is to find health care solutions which broaden coverage while keeping costs down for business. Across the nation, states such as Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont are implementing plans aimed at achieving universal health care, while other states like Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, have passed covering children

From the business side of the aisle comes Peter Elitzer, the President and Founder of the eleven-store chain of Peter Harris Clothing and John Arensmeyer, CEO of the Small Business Majority, Among the patient advocates invited are Denise Soffel, a Senior Policy Analyst at Medicaid Matters New York, Dr. Richard Propp, Chairman of the Capitol District Alliance for Universal Health Care, and Peter Slocum, the Vice President for Advocacy for the American Cancer Society.

"Quality health care should be a right for all rather than a luxury for a few. Access to care should not be determined by one's income, where one lives or language spoken. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have some form of universal health care. While other countries have declared health care to be a basic right, the United States continues to treat health care as a privilege," says former New York State Senator Catherine Abate, currently President of the Community Healthcare Network, who is a BALCONY member and one of the Forum's coordinators.

Forum sponsors include: NYSUT, American Cancer Society, LECET, UNITE HERE, Saratoga Capital Management, CSEA, Small Business Majority, AETNA, RWDSU, Building Congress of New York, NYS AFL-CIO, FPA, Heinz Family Philanthropies, GCA NYC, CWE, Castle Arch Realty, Astoria Graphics, CWA 1180, County Dental, OMCE, NYS Trial Lawyers, Amalgamated Bank, PEF, Injured Workers Bar Association, Amalgamated Life, Healthplex, Mainstream New York, Ameriplan Dental Plus, America's Agenda : Health Care for All, Medicare Rights Center, Health Plus.

About BALCONY

BALCONY, www.balconynewyork.com, represents more than 500 New York businesses, labor unions, and trade associations. BALCONY seeks common ground in the public policy debate in New York to spur economic development through the adoption of business/ union friendly, socially responsible common sense laws that maintain and improve the quality of life for working New Yorkers.


Agenda

AGENDA: AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE IN NEW YORK
MAY 10, 2007 EMPIRE PLAZA MEETING ROOM 7

(PANELS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

9:30 A.M. - GREETINGS

  • Catherine Abate - President and CEO, Community Healthcare Network
  • Dr. James Melius - Administrator, LECET
  • Bruce Ventimiglia - BALCONY Co-Chair; Saratoga Capital Management
  • Alan Lubin - BALCONY Co-Chair; Executive Vice President, NYSUT
  • Fran Turner - Political Director, CSEA
  • John Arensmeyer - Founder & CEO, Small Business Majority

9:45 A.M. - THE FINANCIAL CHALLENGES FACING HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS

  • Judith Arnold - Dir. of the Office of Health Insurance Programs, NYS Department of Health
  • Steve Boyle - CEO, St. Peters Hospital
  • Kate Breslin - Director of Policy, Community Health Care Association of New York
  • Dr. Barbie Gatton - Past President, Committee of Interns and Residents
  • Dr. Mara Rosenberg - County Dental

11:00 A.M. - STRATEGIES TO ACHIEVE AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE

  • Mark Blum - Managing Director, America’s Agenda: Health Care for All
  • Jeffrey Lewis - President, Heinz Family Philanthropies
  • Richard Kirsch - Executive Director, Citizens Action of New York
  • Robert Hayes - President, Medicare Rights Center

12:15 P.M. - HEALTH CARE INITIATIVES AROUND THE NATION (lunch keynote)

  • State Senator Jim Leddy - Co-Chair, Vermont Health Care Reform Coalition
  • Lucien Wulsin - Project Director, Insure the Uninsured
  • Rachel Rosen DeGolia - Director, Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN)

1:30 P.M. - SMALL BUSINESS AND THE HEALTH CARE CHALLENGE

  • John Arensmeyer - Founder & CEO, Small Business Majority
  • Rick Shaheen - President, Shaheen Management, Rochester
  • Peter Elitzer - President, Peter Harris Clothing, Albany

2:30 P.M. - PATIENTS AND ADVOCATES - BATTLE FOR UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE

  • Judy Wessler - Commission on the Public Health System
  • Nick Unger - Health Care Advisor, TWU Local 100
  • Peter Slocum - Vice President of Advocacy, American Cancer Society
  • Mark Dunlea - Director, Hunger Coalition of New York
  • Dr. Richad Propp - Capital District Alliance for Universal Health Care, Physicians for National Health Care
  • Denise Soffel - Senior Policy Analyst, Medicaid Matters New York

(PANELS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE)

3:30 P.M. - 4:00 P.M. - WRAP-UP