NY frets over federal health-care plan

ALBANY -- A planned vote Thursday by House Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act drew another round of rebukes from Democratic leaders in New York as key GOP lawmakers in Washington said they would vote for the new package.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has assailed the latest changes to American Health Care Act, contending it could strip health care from 2.7 million New Yorkers and leave the state with a $4.7 billion hole in its Medicaid budget.

In particular, the Democratic governor has criticized an amendment that would no longer require counties to pay a portion of the state's $60 billion a year Medicaid tab.

The amendment, supported by New York's local leaders, has been seen as key to winning the support of a few New York House Republicans in moderate districts, including the Hudson Valley's John Faso and the North Country's Elise Stefanik.

On Thursday, ahead of the expected vote, Faso said he will vote for the bill, and so too did Stefanik.

"After careful review of the changes to the American Health Care Act, I believe that this legislation addresses my concerns and I will support the AHCA as amended," Faso said in a statement.

Democrats in New York breathed a sigh of relief after the House's attempt to replace Obamacare fell apart last month.

But with a revised package in Washington, Cuomo again sounded an alarm over the impact on the state's finances. New York has the largest Medicaid program in the nation, with more than 5.3 million enrollees.

"The Republican health care bill is an assault on women and an assault on New York," Cuomo said in a statement late Wednesday.

"It would allow insurance companies to discriminate against Americans based on pre-existing conditions, force millions of New Yorkers to lose coverage, and slash Medicaid by hundreds of billions of dollars."

The Medicaid funding amendment from Faso and western New York Rep. Chris Collins would no longer require counties to pay a portion of Medicaid, a move that advocates said would remove an unfunded mandate on counties and help them lower their costs.

The change wouldn't take effect until 2020, giving the state time to plan, Faso said.

“If included in the AHCA, the Medicaid language would simply require Albany after 2020 to eliminate the local share of Medicaid, as virtually every other state now does," Faso said in a statement Wednesday.

"People continue to flee upstate New York due to lack of jobs and high property taxes. No amount of deception coming from Mr. Cuomo can obscure those facts."

Cuomo said the change alone would essentially cut $2.3 billion in Medicaid funding to the state.

The bill, supported by President Trump, would head to the Republican-led Senate if approved in the House.

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, Monroe County, spoke on the House floor Thursday morning to voice opposition to the changes to Obamacare, saying constituents constantly call her office to urge her to reject the new federal measure.

"I have never seen political suicide in my life like I'm seeing today," Slaughter implored her GOP colleagues, adding, "It is a sad day for the United States."

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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