Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday backed a plan that would provide health insurance to all New Yorkers — a proposal they say is necessary as Republicans in Washington move to repeal the Affordable Care Act
“It would be a disaster for New York and the millions of people that currently rely on the Affordable Care Act,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at a Capitol news conference. “We have an obligation to ensure that we take action to protect the 3.6 million New Yorkers enrolled in comprehensive coverage through our state’s exchange.”
The health care for all bill, likely a difficult lift to pass in the Republican-controlled Senate, would be paid for with a tax on the rich.
“Fortunately New York has an enormous number of really wealthy people who will contribute a substantial part of the cost and as a result 98 percent of New Yorkers would be spending less than they are today,” said Assemblyman Richard Gottfried.
Senate Democrats also insist they’ll push to shore up money for Planned Parenthood in New York if the federal government cuts funding — creating another flash point in Albany over women’s health issues. The federal government is legally barred from funding abortion services.
“That’s money I can’t imagine the state of New York couldn’t and wouldn’t make those programs whole,” said Sen. Liz Krueger.
In addition to the creation of a single-payer plan, Democrats would codify the state’s health insurance exchange, which was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo through executive order. Another bill would bolster the exchange in the event the ACA is repealed.
The proposals come as some lawmakers remain anxious in New York over the impact the state’s finances could take should the measure be repealed. House Republicans are discussing a bill that would potentially provide block grants for the state’s Medicaid program.
“Anything that has the potential to put health care delivery in the state of New York in jeopardy is something that we’re concerned with,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Wednesday.
Heastie expects the Legislature would likely return to Albany if the ACA is repealed to respond.
Not everyone is voicing alarm over block grants. Republican Rep. John Faso in an interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300 said the potential changes to Medicaid could help New York when it comes to asking for waivers and amendments.
“The markets are falling apart in many states,” Faso said. “There’s no way we should sit here and let that deteriorate further.”