The state’s freshman senator came to Park Slope’s New York Methodist Hospital last week to meet medical professionals and talk up President Obama’s health care reform initiative.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who hails from upstate New York and who Gov. Paterson picked to replace former Senator and current Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was the keynote speaker at the annual Joseph Silver, M.D., Memorial Lecture.
Silver practiced at the hospital, 506 Sixth Street, for over 40 years, and Gillibrand was introduced by his brother, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
In the introduction, Silver said his brother would have favored a universal health plan and that doctors are being fed misinformation by health insurance companies and others that oppose the Obama initiative.
Gillibrand said she believes the Senate will hammer out a compromise on the national health care reform bill by the end of the year, but much work still needs to be done.
Among the items open to compromise is allowing those between the ages of 55-65 to buy into Medicare, and second, allowing people to buy into the health care package already offered to federal employees, Gillibrand said.
Gillibrand said the health care reform bill would cover 94 percent of all Americans.
“The plan wants to move away from emergency room care and towards preventative care,” she said, adding that 75 percent of all medical costs now come from chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart ailments.
Gillibrand said health care costs can also be brought down through better information technology where national data bases can have a patient’s records so that tests don’t have to be repeated.
The senator said she also opposes current anti-trust exemptions that heath care companies enjoy.
If the government doesn’t rein in costs a families and/or people making $50,000 annually will have to pay half their salary in medical insurance in just a few years, she said.