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Schneiderman vows court action against ACA repeal

WBFO File Photo

New York’s top elected Democrats rallied against the Republican Congress’ proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying they will take legal action, if necessary, to stop it.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, speaking Monday before a crowd of unionized health care workers at Mount Sinai Hospital, said if the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare in the GOP-led Senate and House do become law, he will sue on behalf of New Yorkers.

“I’ve developed a bit of a reputation since January as the guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government,” Schneiderman said to cheers. “Always on the merits and, boy, have we got a lot of merits on our side.”

This is not the first time that Schneiderman has made the threat. The attorney general said after the House passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement that court action was likely.

Schneiderman said provisions in both the Senate and House plans to de-fund Planned Parenthood services “would create an undue burden” on women’s constitutional right to reproductive health care, including the right to choose abortion.

He said restrictions on federal dollars to fund breast cancer screenings and STD tests, among other things, are also unconstitutional. And he said the Faso-Collins amendment, named for two Republican congressmen from New York, would unconstitutionally “meddle” in New York’s Medicaid funding system.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who also spoke, called the Faso-Collins amendment “an old-fashioned con game.” Congressmen Chris Collins of Western New York and John Faso of the Hudson Valley sought the provision in exchange for their support of the ACA repeal. It would end $2.3 billion of annual federal aid to counties to pay for Medicaid, and instead require that the state of New York fund the programs instead.

“Faso and Collins, these are the guys who used to be on the corner with the card game,” Cuomo said.

The congressmen have said that their amendment reduces New York’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes, which are collected by counties in part to fund the government health care program.

Cuomo started a fund to try to defeat Collins, Faso and several other GOP congressmen and women in the 2018 elections. According to the New York Daily News, the governor already has raised about $1 million.

In addition to the reductions under the Faso-Collins amendment, both the Senate and House plans would greatly slow the growth of Medicaid spending and would de-fund Medicaid expansion programs that New York added under Obamacare. The cuts would leave a multi-billion-dollar hole in the state budget, and affect New Yorkers who depend on the government to help with their health care.

Schneiderman said two-thirds of New York’s nursing home patients and the half of the state’s disabled people who rely on Medicaid would be “devastated” by the changes. 

Two million New Yorkers could lose their health care altogether.

The rally was organized in anticipation of an expected vote in Senate this week on the health care plan. But the Senate vote is delayed because Sen. John McCain will be spending at least the next two weeks recovering at home in Arizona after an operation to remove a blood clot above his eye. When he returns, he is likely to provide a key yes vote to pass the repeal and replacement plan.

If Republican senators are successful, they would still need to reconcile their bill with the House version, and then President Donald Trump would have to sign it into law.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.