We the Patients


Shockingly high medical bill? Unaffordable insurance coverage? Share your health care story and join the movement of patients advocating for more affordable, accessible and equitable health care in New York.

Use this form to get in touch with us. We’ll follow up.

Patient advocates drive policy change.

In 2004, 24-year-old Manny Lanza needed urgent surgery for a life-threatening brain condition. But without insurance, the hospital refused to schedule the treatment. Manny died waiting.

Manny’s father fought to make Manny’s story known. He, alongside longtime health and legal advocates, became the catalyst for New York’s charity care law passed in 2007, which requires hospitals to provide free or low cost care to uninsured or underinsured patients. The law – the Hospital Financial Assistance Law – is now known as Manny’s Law.

Patient voices can be powerful forces for health care reform. We The Patients is a movement to amplify those experiences and engage patients in health care advocacy, to create a better health care system. We believe collective action—working together with community members, activists, unions, nonprofits, policymakers, volunteers, and more—is the best way to accelerate and actualize change.

Featured patient Stories

Denied Dental — Bebhinn’s Story
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Having faced a number of health issues over the past 17 years, Bebhinn was well-versed in the difficulty obtaining care as a low-income individual.

“My credit is zero because — solely because — of medical debt.”…

Bankrupt Over Medical Bills, With Insurance – Tonia’s Story
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 As a nurse, Tonia has spent more than a decade supporting other patients – in more ways than one.

Despite having good insurance through her job, Tonia could not afford the mounting medical bills that went to debt collection. Eventually, she was forced to file bankruptcy…

In The Hospital for 135 Days: Michael’s Story
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Admitted suddenly to Mt. Sinai’s ICU with Guillain-Barré syndrome – a very rare and serious condition – Michael Ring began to fear for his life. He was hospitalized for 135 days, nearly four and a half months.

While still in the ICU, Michael began receiving calls from the hospital’s billing department. The bills totaled $1.5 million dollars…

Get updates on our latest advocacy efforts and learn how you can get involved.

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Over 53,000 New Yorkers were sued by New York’s charitable hospitals between 2015 and 2020, including at least 4,000 people sued during the pandemic. Patients need protections from unfair medical bills and extraordinary collections actions taken over medical debt.

These include:

  • Cutting medical debt from credit reports to relieve patients from long-term consequences 
  • Making financial assistance applications consistent and accessible for patients

Half of New Yorkers say that they cannot afford medical care even with insurance and another 5 percent of New Yorkers – 1 million people – have no coverage at all. Health coverage should be accessible and affordable, for all New Yorkers.

New York can improve coverage by:

  • Passing the New York Health Act, which would ensure coverage for everyone in the state
  • Allowing all income-eligible New Yorkers to enroll in the state’s Essential Plan, regardless of immigration status

Decisions surrounding hospital building projects and closures are made without considering community need, often resulting in limited access to care for communities with lower incomes or with more people of color. For example, Queens has just 1.5 hospital beds for every 1,000 residents, while Manhattan has 6.4.
We can create a more equitable New York by:

  • Adding patients to the Public Health and Health Planning Council to ensure hospital planning decisions reflect patient needs
  • Distribute more of New York’s $1.1 billion indigent care pool to hospitals that care for the lowest-income New Yorkers

Consumer assistance programs are crucial to helping patients enroll in coverage and navigate our complex health care system

  • Increase funding for Navigators who provide enrollment assistance
  • Create a grant program to fund community-based organizations to conduct outreach in communities with large uninsured populations
  • Increase funding for Community Health Advocates to handle rising demand


Get Direct Support

Understanding Health Insurance, Resolving Medical Billing Issues & More

Get Direct Support

Understanding Health Insurance, Resolving Medical Billing Issues & More:
Community Health Advocates

How to Avoid Facility Fees

“When the Doctor’s Visit Costs Double” by Chuck Bell

How to Avoid Facility Fees:

“When the Doctor’s Visit Costs Double” by Chuck Bell
Keep reading

Medical Debt in New York: What Patients Can Do to Fight Back

Medical Debt in New York: What Patients Can Do to Fight Back:

Watch Video

Department of Financial Services: Guide to Surprise Bills

Department of Financial Services: Guide to Surprise Bills:

Read Now


Social Media

"Q&A: Nonprofit leader on the ‘Herculean’ effort to maintain Medicaid coverage for New Yorkers"

This nonprofit leader is Community Service Society of New York's very own Vice President of Health Initiatives, Elisabeth Benjamin! 🤩

Read the interview in ...Crain's New York:

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Q&A: Nonprofit leader on the ‘Herculean’ effort to maintain Medicaid coverage for New Yorkers

Plus: Mount Sinai, Weill Cornell get $30M to study cardiac procedures in women and minority groups Lawmaker introduces bill for Medicaid to cover...


It's National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month! 💚

Check out our guide on minority health! It features resources from Voces Latinas, National Black Leadership Commission on Health, Apicha Community Health Center, and South Asian Council for Social Services.

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In NY’s Capital District, communities of color had a median debt amount of $899, TWO TIMES higher than the median for predominantly white communities!

Check out Urban Institute's report & the New York Health Foundation's interactive maps:

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Medical Debt in New York State and Its Unequal Burden across Communities

New data and interactive maps show disparities of medical debt amounts across New York State.


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