ALBANY – House Republicans’ long-awaited plan to replace the Affordable Care Act led New York officials Tuesday to assess its impact on the state and its residents as Congress grapples with the bill’s chances of passage.
As uncertainty over the future of the federal healthcare system persists, state Senate Democrats are proposing the creation of a single-payer public health system as part of a package of bills to help the state prep for potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation, touted by the Minority Democrats on Wednesday, would set up the frame work for a single-payer system, tasking state health officials with the actual implementation and devising the exact funding mechanism.
Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried in an interview Tuesday said the possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act strengthens his long-sought effort to create a single-payer system in New York.
“What I think New York ought to be doing and the only thing a progressive state can do is enact a state-based improved Medicare for all or single-payer system,” Gottfried said. “The enormous savings we’d get by eliminating the administrative costs in the current system is the only way we can free up enough money to fill up the holes the federal government is going to be blasting in health care.”
New York officials are pondering what to do in the event of a repeal of the law by the Republican-controlled Congress. Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a press conference on Tuesday said the state can’t really plan for an unraveling of the measure or what could potentially replace it.
The state did participate in the expansion of the Medicaid program and could see its safety net shrink if block grants are created for the program.
“What really scares me is what the federal government is going to cut the Medicaid program and damage Medicare,” Gottfried said.
Still, the more popular, consumer-focused aspects of the ACA are already enshrined in state law, Gottfried said.
“Fortunately, a lot of the insurance provisions, consumer safeguards and the like in the Affordable Care, are embedded in our law,” he said. “Many of them are embedded in our law for 20 years or more.”
Representative Yvette Clarke, a Democratic Congressman from Brooklyn recently hosted a town hall meeting at which she staunchly defended the soon to be outgoing Affordable Care Act, known as Obama care. The Act has been a topic of choice at a number of Town Hall meetings in recent weeks.
The repeal of Obama Care sparked a wave of protests on Medical school campuses across the country at the beginning of the year, as students took to the streets, staged “death-ins” and called on their government representatives to halt the repeal of the ACA. Future medical practitioners are worried that removing Obama Care could leave many at risk patients without adequate health insurance.
The potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the uncertainty over what might replace it have state lawmakers warning of a major budget hole in New York – and wondering how to remedy it.
At City & State’s State of New York Finance event on Tuesday, a panel of lawmakers and industry officials had more questions than solutions for how the state will prepare for and respond to a full repeal of the health care law, widely known as Obamacare.
Drug price controls, the adequacy of Medicaid payments and expanding the power of the Health Department were among the topics discussed at a legislative hearing Thursday on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget for health and Medicaid.
An underlying theme was uncertainty about what action President Donald Trump and a Republican-led Congress might take on the Affordable Care Act, which could affect health insurance subsidies for New Yorkers, and funding for women’s reproductive health clinics, including Planned Parenthood.
“Much is happening in Washington,” state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker told lawmakers. “If the ACA were repealed, that would be a major concern, with millions of people potentially losing health care.”
I represent Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Midtown, and parts of Murray Hill and the Lincoln Center area in the State Assembly. I have been chair of the Assembly Health Committee since 1987. During off hours, I like to write Chinese calligraphy.