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New York leaders react with dismay to ACA repeal

May 4, 2017

Some of New York’s leaders are expressing outrage over the Republican House of Representatives vote to undo the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has warned for months that the proposed repeal of the ACA would blow a multi-billion-dollar hole in the state budget and potentially cost state and local governments and New York’s hospitals $4.5 billion.

Those who get their health care through the New York Exchange, set up under Obamacare, could lose $400 million in tax credits. And 1 million New Yorkers could lose their health care. 

In a statement shortly after the vote, Cuomo called the vote an “unconscionable” act by “ultraconservatives” that “threatens to tear apart” the health care system.

Speaking earlier in the week, Cuomo said the bill is “an arrow at the heart of New York.”

“Their health care proposal would devastate this state,” Cuomo said. “Literally cost us billions and billions of dollars.”

The governor also denounced an amendment sponsored by western New York Rep. Chris Collins and Hudson Valley Rep. John Faso that would require New York state to take over the counties’ costs of Medicaid, worth about $2.3 billion.

Cuomo, speaking when the amendment was first proposed in late March, said it’s a “despicable” attempt to buy votes at the “cost of the state of New York” and their own districts, and that he is considering legal action.

“I believe it is unconstitutional,” Cuomo said on March 23. “We are seriously considering a lawsuit.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said that the repeal bill, if it were to pass the U.S. Senate and become law, would “punch a big hole” in the state budget and means that “far fewer New Yorkers will have insurance.”

And State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he also believes the bill is unconstitutional, and said he stands “ready to challenge it in court.”

Schneiderman said the measure “threatens to slash essential health care services for millions of New Yorkers who need them the most” and would unconstitutionally “deny women access to reproductive health care.” 

He said he also believes the Collins-Faso amendment “exceeds Congress’ authority by interfering with how New York has long elected to fund its Medicaid program.”

Meanwhile, Republican members of Congress are defending their vote.

Faso said in a statement that the ACA has already “failed” and would “collapse under its own weight if nothing is done.” Faso said his amendment “will bring much-needed property tax relief” and preserve jobs.

Collins, in a statement, called Obamacare a “nightmare” that has “plagued” Americans for seven years. And Collins also touted what he said is the “largest property tax reduction ever to be enacted.”

Left-leaning political groups are incensed. Jessica Wisneski with Citizen Action said GOP congressmen and women from New York who voted for the repeal did the wrong thing.

“They completely disregarded the thousands and thousands of constituents who voiced a very clear opinion that they should vote against this bill,” Wisneski said.

Wisneski said while one of her group’s purposes is to organize political action, the discontent she’s seeing is bubbling up from ordinary people.

“The natural next step is going to be angry crowds of people outside their offices,” she said. “We don’t even have to organize that.”

The battle now shifts to the U.S. Senate.