Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg both criticized the Senate health care reform bill yesterday, because they say the bill gives goodies and funding to states that currently offer weak assistance to poor sick people, while penalizing New York. "We are in a sense being punished for our own charity," Paterson told reporters. The Governor is reportedly upset that states like Massachusetts and Vermont got last-minute deals that erase their extra costs, and other states whose senators were holdouts got cash incentives. Nebraska, for instance, will have 100% of its Medicaid costs covered by the Senate bill, while New York will continue to cover half on its own.
Bloomberg believes the Senate bill would cost the city $540 million. "It would require us to close all of the 100 health clinics and a bunch of the ambulatory care things that we provide, overnight, cause the money would disappear," Hizzoner told reporters. "It will be very devastating to health care in this city. It's really a disgrace... What's different about New York is we go and we provide a level of care . . . that is unparalleled in this country, and I believe this bill basically penalizes us for doing so...Those places that have never taken care of their people, they get money."
New York House members are scrambling to get more for the state if and when the Senate bill is reconciled with the House bill. A spokesman for Senator Chuck Schumer admitted that "the Senate bill is good for New York in ways that the House bill isn't." And Patersons aides say the House bill would actually save the state roughly $4 billion a year.
Meanwhile, the Senate's bill moved forward this morning with procedural vote number two, and is on track to pass on Christmas Eve. In keeping with the sleep-deprived, holiday theme, Senator Roland Burris, Democrat of Illinois, took to the Senate floor to read a poem riffing on The Night Before Christmas. It begins:
It was the night before Christmas and all through the Senate, the right held up our health care bill, no matter what was in it. The people had voted a mandated reform, but Republicans blew off the gathering storm. We’ll clog up the Senate, they cried with a grin. And in the mid-term elections we’ll get voted in.