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New York faces hard hit from Senate health bill

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New York will be hit hard if the health care bill introduced in the Senate becomes law.

New York's Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand did not mince her words. During an appearance in Troy Friday, she called the Republican crafted bill "toxic" and "harmful."

"This bill is basically a tax cut bill disguised as a health care bill," Gillibrand said. "It gives billions of dollars to wealthy families and insurance companies."

Even a conservative-leaning think tank in New York acknowledges the harmful impact. Bill Hammond, director of health policy at the Empire Center, told the Capitol Pressroom on WBFO that the Senate bill is actually worse for New York than the House-approved version. He said New York would lose more in Medicaid funding under the Senate plan.

Hammond said both versions would likely bring an end to the state's Essential Plan, which covers low-income New Yorkers who don't qualify for Medicaid.

"Some of these people would switch to Medicaid," Hammond said. "But most would have to shop on their own through the exchanges. They'd be using these skinnier tax credits. They'd be getting less help to buy insurance."

Republican leaders claim reductions in Medicaid funding are needed to better control health care costs. But advocates for the poor are left wondering what could happen if the state responds to the federal cuts by eliminating Medicaid coverage to those who have no other options.