Vote today on health care bill in Congress, with Cuomo predicting doom if it passes

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 23 March 2017 at 9:46 am

County Legislature, Congressman Collins say it would be big cut in property taxes

Today is the big vote in the House of Representatives to repeal the Affordable Care Act with a new health care plan backed by President Donald Trump and many Republicans in Congress.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been adamantly opposing the plan, saying it will result in a $7 billion hit to the state.

He also said reduced funding to hospitals will decimate the healthcare system. Medina Memorial Hospital would face $569,762 in cuts with the new Trump-backed healthcare plan, Cuomo said, citing analysis by the New York State Department of Health.

The healthcare proposal includes an amendment from Congressman Chris Collins that would relieve upstate counties from paying towards Medicaid, shifting about $2.3 billion to the state.

David Callard

The Orleans County Legislature voted unanimously to support the “Collins Amendment” in the American Health Care Act on Wednesday, saying it would provide significant tax relief, cutting the county tax rate in half.

“This would be a tremendous boost to the counties,” said Legislature Chairman David Callard. “We appreciate the initiative of our congressman.”

Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer, said counties have been opposing the local contribution to Medicaid for a half century. Nesbitt noted nearly all states don’t require a local share for Medicaid.

“This is significant and something after 50 years of fighting we’d be glad to support,” Nesbitt said during Wednesday’s Legislature meeting.

Cuomo has issued several press releases in recent days, warning of dire consequences to hospitals, and tax hikes in the state.

“The radical conservative ideology in Washington has declared war on New York with legislation that will devastate hospitals across the state and hurt New Yorkers,” Cuomo said on Wednesday. “These massive cuts will cripple our hospitals and ravage the health care services on which New Yorkers rely, with $7.8 million in cuts to hospitals in the 27th District alone. I urge members of the community to call their member of Congress and demand that they vote ‘no’ on this unconscionable piece of legislation.”

Callard said he believes the state can absorb the tax shift in Medicaid by reducing some of the benefits in the $60 billion annual Medicaid program.

Collins also urged Cuomo to rein in some of Medicaid’s costs. Collins faulted Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul for their resistance to the health care plan that would cut property taxes.

“Governor Cuomo and his sidekick are using doomsday predictions to scare everyday New Yorkers into allowing Albany to continue taxing them to death,” Collins said in a statement. “It’s absolutely disgusting the Governor would threaten the middle class with a tax increase, while holding a $14 billion taxpayer funded slush fund in his back pocket. As I have said before, if this Governor can’t find 1.5% to save in his budget, I am more than willing to find it for him.”

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley also chastised Cuomo for his pushback on the Medicaid funding shift.

“Gov. Cuomo’s shameless threat to New York families is absolutely offensive,” Hawley said. “New York State needs to join the rest of the nation and pay for Medicaid instead of leveraging the program on the backs of homeowners and local governments. We have an obligation to cover our most vulnerable but not in a ‘cradle to grave’ fashion by which our state offers more ‘optional’ benefits than any other state which increases the cost dramatically. We should be encouraging people and businesses to come here for the job opportunities and not because we promise these taxpayer-funded handouts.”

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