The Senate is moving ahead on the repeal and possibly the replacement of the Affordable Care Act, and policy makers in New York are bracing for the worst.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking on the Senate floor, painted a grim picture of the present state of the ACA, also known as Obamacare, saying it’s caused pain “for literally millions of families”.
“Premiums have skyrocketed, ”McConnell said. “Insurance options have declined.”
He says in some states, there are one or in some cases, no carriers available .
Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Leader, says he believes the opposite is true. It’s the repeal and replacement measures that will devastate the health care system, he said.
“It will certainly mean drastic cuts in Medicaid, huge tax cuts for the rich,” Schumer said. “No help for those with preexisting conditions. And millions and millions losing health care.”
Governor Cuomo’s Medicaid Director, Jason Helgerson, agrees that the repeal of Obamacare would be devastating for New York. And he says lawmakers in Washington are reneging on their responsibilities.
“This is the ultimate cop out,” Helgerson said.
Helgerson, in an interview with public radio and tv, says New York’s health care exchange is relatively healthy, 17 separate plans are offered. But he says New York could lose $8 to $9 billion dollars in Medicaid funding each year, if the health care expansions under Obamacare are phased out. He says that would blow a hole in the state budget.
“It’s a massive hole that no tax increase could ever fill,” Helgerson said. “It would mean massive cuts in access to health insurance for millions of New Yorkers.”
He says there are no good scenarios that are being seriously considered right now in Washington.
A report commissioned by the Coalition of New York State Public Health Plans finds similar results. It says the state could lose $40 billion dollars in Medicaid funding between now and 2026, under the repeal and replacement plans being considered by the Republican led Congress. The not for profit health insurance plans that make up the coalition cover two thirds of all of New Yorkers signed up for coverage under the state’s Obamacare exchanges. The study, by Manatt Health, estimates that if New York does not come up with the money to make up the difference, two million people in the state would eventually lose their health coverage.