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OPINION: Dems Put Drug Dens, Tax Hikes Ahead of Nursing-Home Deaths

By Will Barclay


Too often, the Democrat majorities in the New York Legislature fail to properly prioritize the needs of New Yorkers. Recently, members of the Assembly Health Committee provided yet more examples of their inability to distinguish between what this state needs to improve the quality of life for its residents and what they want for their own political agenda. 

Consider two bills being advanced by Democrats as evidence of their misguided approach. One measure hopes to expand supervised drug-injection sites beyond New York City, and this legislation would redirect taxpayer money to those sites as opposed to the private funding they rely upon at present. Taxpayer-funded drug dens? 

Another bill would set up a single-payer health-care system in New York state, despite overwhelming evidence from other states those programs are inefficient and wildly expensive. There are a lot of reasons this proposed, misguided legislation should fail. For one, New York has failed miserably to administer even the most basic programs. Case in point: emergency COVID-19 funding, rental assistance, and myriad other state-run assistance programs have been so inefficiently administered that the state actually risked giving the money back to the federal government. If it cannot handle running those relatively small programs, how is it going to administer a health- care program for 20 million residents that will cost as much alone as the rest of the budget does in total?

During a recent committee meeting aimed at vetting the proposal’s viability, my colleague, Assemblyman Angelo Morinello, raised some pertinent questions about the costs associated with a state-sponsored health care program. Namely, how New York State would reconcile the hundreds of billions of dollars it will cost to run the program with the state’s already massive, bloated and record-setting $220.5 billion budget passed just weeks ago — one that Comptroller Tom DiNapoli expressed serious concerns about in a recent analysis.

In contrast to these expensive, radical proposals, the Assembly Health Committee still has not taken up a bill (A.3162) that would establish a temporary state commission to study and investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic response on deaths in nursing homes. For more than two years, our minority conference has repeatedly called for measures to be put in place to address and seek clarity on the state Department of Health’s directive from March 25, 2020, which forced nursing homes to accept patients with COVID-19. The Health Committee’s continued inaction on this pertinent, life-saving emergency response measure is baffling.

In reality, the bills being promulgated by Assembly Democrats are costly, unrealistic, and out of sync with the overwhelming majority of residents. Drug dens and an inevitable, astronomical tax hike to pay for subsidized health care have taken precedent over a critical piece of legislation that will ensure nothing like the disaster we encountered in our nursing homes ever happens again. This is fundamentally wrong.

The Assembly majority has drifted too far toward the fringes of public policy. As a legislature, it is our job to ensure all New Yorkers have a safe, affordable quality of life. The measures being considered simply will not deliver the results they are advertising, and I sincerely hope my colleagues across the aisle realign themselves with the vast majority of New Yorkers. Unfortunately, right now, they have shown they are either unwilling or unable to do so.      

William (Will) A. Barclay, 53, Republican, is the New York Assembly minority leader and represents the 120th New York Assembly District, which encompasses most of Oswego County, including the cities of Oswego and Fulton, as well as the town of Lysander in Onondaga County and town of Ellisburg in Jefferson County. This article was submitted on May 13. 

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