Nearly 500,000 Queens residents could lose health coverage if Obamacare is repealed

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If Congressional Republicans and the incoming Trump administration pull the plug on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), nearly a half-million Queens residents stand to lose their health insurance coverage, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

On Wednesday, the governor announced the results of a study focused on the potential repeal of Obamacare, something which Congressional Republicans voted dozens of times to do since President Obama signed the health insurance reform legislation into law in 2010.

Come Jan. 20, when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in as the nation’s 45th president, Republicans will have complete control of Congress and the White House. Trump made the repeal of Obamacare one of his main talking points on the campaign trail; talk is already underway to begin the process of repealing a law that, despite its reported costs and flaws, provides health insurance coverage to more than 20 million people nationwide.

The cost of repealing Obamacare, according to Cuomo, “is simply too high to justify.” More than 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose health insurance coverage, including a projected 493,058 Queens residents; only Kings County (Brooklyn) has a higher number of New York residents per county in danger of losing their health insurance with the Obamacare repeal.

Moreover, Cuomo said, the state budget would take a $3.7 billion hit, as it would lose funding from Medicaid that has helped cover the costs of Affordable Care Act programs in the Empire State. New Yorkers who receive health care savings tax credits would also lose $250 million, as those credits would disappear with the act’s repeal.

“Since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act has become a powerful tool to lower the cost of health insurance for local governments and New Yorkers, and it is essential that the federal government does not jeopardize the health and livelihoods of millions of working families,” Cuomo said.

Obamacare enabled the state to create the NY State of Health insurance exchange, where individuals could purchase their own health insurance plans. This helped cut the rate of uninsured New York residents by half, from 10 percent before 2010 to just 5 percent today, the Governor’s Office noted.

Along with eliminating health insurance for tens of thousands of residents statewide, the repeal of Obamacare may also endanger the lives of hospitals across the state, according to Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association. Twenty-seven medical centers in the state “are on a ‘watch list’ for financial stress, and many more both public and private [hospitals] face similar fiscal challenges.” Those hospitals might be in danger of service cutbacks or full closure without the Affordable Care Act’s programs.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act without an immediate and adequate replacement plan will make things dramatically worse for safety net hospitals and the vulnerable communities they serve,” Raske added.

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