Senate Republicans released a draft Thursday of their closely-guarded health care bill, which would drastically cut Medicaid, slash taxes on the wealthy, and repeal the Obamacare requirement that most Americans have health insurance. According to Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, the senate's version of the bill is even more harmful to middle class Americans than the House bill—which would've taken insurance from 1 million New Yorkers, according to Mayor de Blasio. With Mitch McConnell pressing for a recess vote by next week, we're now in the midst of yet another tight battle between Democrats, who are unified against it, and Republicans, who may need to do some arm-twisting to lock in the necessary 50 (out of 52) Senate votes.
New York politicians wasted no time Thursday condemning the legislation, with Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Public Advocate Tish James, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and others weighing in on what the GOP plan would mean for our city and state.
"Like the disastrous House proposal, this bill will strip coverage from millions of New Yorkers, cost New York State billions of dollars, and devastate our health care system," Cuomo said in a statement. The governor took particular issue with the bill's inclusion of the Collins-Faso Amendment, otherwise known as the Buffalo Buyout, which allows upstate counties to skip out on paying into the state's Medicaid fund. By keeping the sweetener in the senate's plan, the amendment "targets New York and threatens to slash an additional $2.3 billion in Medicaid funding for the state, leading to devastating cuts to our hospitals, nursing homes, and home care providers," Cuomo said.
Comments from de Blasio, meanwhile, have come in the form of an online video shared on Twitter, in which the mayor appeals to New Yorker’s activism and urges them to "attend events in your community, the rallies, the town hall meetings, anything that will create urgency." [Here's a few]. Earlier in the day, the mayor tweeted that it wasn't hyperbole "to say Trumpcare takes from working New Yorkers and gives to the rich."
Senate Republicans want to vote in one week to kick thousands of New Yorkers off their health insurance. pic.twitter.com/3uXWauklrx
— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) June 22, 2017
Echoing the mayor, Public Advocate Tish James took to Twitter to encourage her city residents to check out the Indivisible Guide to Opposing The AHCA, while Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called on his non-New York followers to demand a no vote from their Senators. On Tuesday morning, James will host a hearing to discuss the the bill's impact at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.
Elsewhere, the New York Drug Policy Alliance has predicted that the bill's cuts to Medicaid expansion would measurably worsen the opioid crisis by cutting treatments made available under Obamacare. Under the Senate's plan, a one-time payment of $2 billion would go toward supporting people with mental or substance abuse disorders—substantially less than the $45 billion that some Republican Senators had reportedly sought. That discrepancy, the New York Times reports, could potentially lead to a rift imperiling the Republican's repeal efforts.
"This proposal for new opioid funding is not a substitute for Medicaid expansion," said Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs with the Drug Policy Alliance. "Senators shouldn't be fooled into thinking this can make up for millions of people losing access to reliable, affordable and evidence-based treatment and mental health services."
In other health care news, the state Senate ended their session yesterday without a committee hearing on the New York Health Act, which had 31 co-sponsors in the chamber and would've established a single payer health care system for all 20 million New Yorkers.