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New York leaders react with dismay to ACA repeal

Last Updated by Karen DeWitt on

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.

Governor 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 dollars. 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, which the House of Representatives approved,  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”.

Cuomo also denounced the special amendment, sponsored by Western New York Congressman Chris Collins and Hudson Valley Representative John Faso. It would require New York State to take over the counties’ costs of Medicaid, worth around $2.3 billion dollars.  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 23rd.  “We are seriously considering a lawsuit.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli concurs that the Obamacare repeal bill if it were to pass the US 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 says he also believes the bill is unconstitutional and says he stands “ ready to challenge it in court”.

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

He says he also believes the amendment by Western New York Congressman Chris Collins and Hudson Valley Representative John Faso to have the state take over county Medicaid costs “exceeds Congress’s authority by interfering with how New York has long elected to fund its Medicaid program”.

Meanwhile, Republican members of Congress are defending their vote. Congressman John Faso, who cosponsored the amendment to take over New York county’s Medicaid costs, said in a statement that the ACA has already “failed”, and would “collapse under its own weight if nothing is done”.  Faso says his amendment, “will bring much-needed property tax relief”, and preserve jobs.

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

Left-leaning political groups are incensed. Jessica Wisneski, with Citizen Action, says 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 says 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 US Senate. 

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