By Bill Parry
The U.S. Senate is waiting for an analysis of the American Health Care Act before it begins a review of the legislation approved by the House last week. The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its findings the week of May 22.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), meanwhile, is urging her Republican colleagues to reject the “cruel and dangerous bill,” saying seniors, women and people with pre-existing conditions would take the biggest hit.
“If Trumpcare becomes law, then 24 million Americans would be left stranded without health care they need, and there is no doubt that New Yorkers over 50 and women would suffer the most,” Gillibrand said Sunday. “For thousands of families in our state, this is literally a fight to stay alive, and now that the bill passed the House on a party-line vote, this fight is more urgent than ever.
“We must prevent this cruel and dangerous bill from ever becoming law, and I urge everyone to raise their voices and speak out against it as forcefully as they can.”
New York’s Democratic leadership was appalled at what President Donald Trump called “an unbelievable victory” after House Republicans narrowly passed legislation to repeal Obamacare on May 4. Following the 217-213 vote, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) labeled the measure a “merciless bill” that will be disastrous for the nation’s health and especially harmful to New York.
“We know that this bill will rip away health coverage from at least 24 million Americans, including 2.7 million New Yorkers, impose a crushing age tax on people between the ages of 50 and 64, and gut protections for pre-existing conditions,” Maloney said. “We know that Planned Parenthood will be defunded and that women will lose coverage for maternity care and preventive cancer screenings. We also know this bill is especially cruel to New York. Our state will lose $7 billion in federal funding, which will force hospitals to close their doors or cut services as our most vulnerable lose their health care.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed ultraconservatives in Washington for pushing the “unconscionable” piece of legislation that “threatens to tear apart” the health care system.
“Sadly, some representatives in New York have sold their vote and turned their backs on the very constituents they represent,” Cuomo said. “This bill is a targeted assault against our values, punishing New Yorkers because we support women’s reproductive rights and including the Collins/Faso amendment, which would devastate the state’s health care industry, put millions of New Yorkers at risk, and increase the total cost of this bill on New York to $6.9 billion.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said the American Health Care Act is unfortunate and beyond logic.
“We should not be playing politics with people’s lives, and this move by the Republicans does exactly that. President Trump promised to eliminate Obama’s healthcare bill, and sadly his Republican allies just handed him this tragic victory,” Peralta said. “A modern society should be moving forward, but the Republican-controlled Congress chose to go backwards.”
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the fight is far from over.
“This bill is going nowhere fast in the United States Senate,” he said. “Rather than trying to pass a different version of the same Trumpcare bill that would mean higher costs and less care, Senate Republicans should refuse to follow their House colleagues over a cliff, reject repeal and work with Democrats to improve our health-care system in a bipartisan way.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr