Local health advocates bring their case to Ridge state senator

In light of the New York State Assembly’s passage in May of a single-payer healthcare bill that would help shield New York from any fallout from the yet-to-be-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bevy of southern Brooklyn constituents are calling on the Senate – and specifically, their local representative State Senator Marty Golden – to follow suit.

Those constituents made their request – and concerns — loud and clear on Wednesday, May 31 at a rally outside of Golden’s Bay Ridge office, 7408 Fifth Avenue, co-hosted by two local grassroots groups, South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance and Fight Back Bay Ridge.

There, New Yorkers from Golden’s district and beyond gathered to highlight the local pol’s role in the potential success or failure of the New York Health Act (Bill S4840), which, if passed, would allow the Empire State to enact a universal, single-payer healthcare platform that would protect New Yorkers from the impact of the AHCA, regardless of age, gender or ability to pay.

The act would do so by providing all residents with comprehensive care (primary coverage of their choice, specialists, mental health, vision, dental, prescription drugs and more), utilizing a graduated income scale that would benefit families making less than $400,000 – all while also eliminating deductibles and co-pays.

According to organizer and local resident Sarah Zorn, Golden’s decision should be a no-brainer.

“[Golden] has the chance to be a hero for our community by revolutionizing healthcare in our state,” said Zorn, whose husband of 13 years suffers from Ulcerative Colitis (UC) – a debilitating condition that, before the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the pair could not afford to seek treatment for. It is also one that, under the AHCA, would be treated as a pre-existing condition. “If he releases the bill from committee to a floor vote before the end of the legislative session, he would ensure that New Yorkers are guaranteed the coverage they deserve.”

According to reports, the Senate is one vote shy of having enough support to pass the bill, which would send it to Governor Andrew Cuomo for his signature.

According to Zorn, who has been active in the past in local protests against the AHCA, Golden was less than considerate when it came to the concerns of his constituents, and to her and her husband’s personal struggle.

“We tried to sit down with Marty well before the rally and were pretty much dismissed and demoralized by him,” Zorn told this paper, alleging that she and other constituents were denied time with the senator until a rally was scheduled, at which time Golden’s office set up a meeting that, Zorn adds, the pol was 40 minutes late to.

Furthermore, Zorn claims she was brushed off by the senator, who informed them he was waiting to make a move on this new bill based on what’s still to come out of Washington.

“I started to try to tell him our story and how we’re not in a position to really wait and see,” Zorn said, “to which he stopped me and simply said, ‘You’re husband’s going to be fine – next.’”

Though Zorn said she was admittedly “set back on [her] heels,” she claims that she and her fellow constituents continued to try to steer the conversation into a positive light.

“We wanted him to know that this rally wasn’t about coming with pitchforks. We told him, ‘We’re coming because we want to educate other people about the bill and we would really love if you’d consider speaking yourself, on why you do or don’t support it, or why you’re unsure.’”

Zorn further alleges that Golden responded that he would be in Manhattan on the day of the rally. When asked if he would consider holding a town hall on the matter instead, she said he responded that such a sit-down wouldn’t “benefit” him.

“This is not the path we were looking to take with our relationship with Marty, but I feel like the community needs to know,” Zorn stressed, adding also that the rally itself was an invigorating and peaceful experience with an impressive turnout. “It’s not enough to be a smiling Marty shaking people’s hands at the Third Avenue Festival. This is a guy who has the power to pass some really life-changing legislation and I think that we have to hold his feet to the fire a little bit more.”

Though, Zorn concluded, Golden isn’t the only one facing hot feet.

“While we’re appealing to Marty, we’re also coming to all of our representatives,” she said. “We don’t consider this a partisan issue, and it’s incredibly scary that it has been turned into one.”

Co-sponsors of the rally included the Campaign for New York Health, NYC DSA, NY Health Act Now, #GetOrganizedBK, the Bay Ridge Democrats, Brooklyn ReSisters, Rally for Healthcare, Black Lives Matter of Greater New York, Social Alternative, Gray Panthers, New York 17th District for Progress and the Green Party of Brooklyn.

Some chants echoed at the rally – which took place from 4:30 to 6 p.m. (during which time, Zorn added, Golden’s office closed earlier than usual) – included, “We are ready to fight. Healthcare is a human right;” “Everybody in; nobody out. That’s what New York’s all about;” and “We need a hero, Marty Golden. It could be you.”

When contacted, Golden’s office declined to comment on the aforementioned allegations or the rally itself.

Golden’s district encompasses portions of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park and Midwood.

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