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NY AG Vows Court Action Against ACA Repeal

NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
Pat Bradley/WAMC

New York’s top elected Democrats rallied Monday against the Republican proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying they will take legal action, if necessary, to stop it.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, speaking before a crowd of unionized health care workers at Mount Sinai hospital, says if the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare in the GOP-led Senate and House do become law, he will sue on behalf of New Yorkers.

“I’ve developed a bit of a reputation since January as the guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government,” Schneiderman said, to cheers. “Always on the merits, and boy, have we got a lot of merits on our side.”

This is not the first time that Schneiderman has made the threat. The attorney general said after the House passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement that court action was likely.

The AG says provisions in both the Senate and House plans to defund Planned Parenthood services “would create an undue burden” on women’s constitutional right to reproductive health care, including the right to choose abortion. He says restrictions on federal dollars to fund breast cancer screenings, and STD tests, among other things, are also unconstitutional. And, he says the Faso-Collins amendment, named for two New York GOP congressmen, would unconstitutionally “meddle”, in New York’s Medicaid funding system.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who also spoke, called the Faso-Collins amendment “an old fashioned con game”. Congressmen Chris Collins of Western New York and John Faso of the Hudson Valley sought the provision, in exchange for their support of the ACA repeal. It would end $2.3 billion of annual federal aid to counties to pay for Medicaid, and instead require that the state of New York, fund the programs instead.

“Faso and Collins, these are the guys who used to be on the corner with the card game,” Cuomo said.  

The congressmen have said that their amendment reduces New York’s highest in the nation property taxes, which are collected by counties in part to fund the government health care program.

Cuomo started a fund to try to defeat Collins, Faso and several other GOP congressmen and women in the 2018 elections. According to the New York Daily News, the governor has already raised around a million dollars.

In addition to the reductions under the Faso-Collins amendment, both the Senate and House plans would greatly slow the growth of Medicaid spending, and would defund Medicaid expansion programs that New York added under Obamacare. The cuts would leave a multi-billion dollar hole in the state budget, and affect New Yorkers who depend on the government to help with their health care. AG Schneiderman says two-thirds of New York’s nursing home patients, and the half of the state’s disabled people who rely on Medicaid would be “devastated” by the changes.

Two million New Yorkers could lose their health care altogether.

The rally was organized in anticipation of an expected vote in Senate this week on the health care plan. But the Senate vote is delayed, due to the illness of Senator John McCain, who had an operation to remove a blood clot above his eye. McCain will be spending the next two weeks, at least, recovering at home in Arizona. When he returns he is likely to provide a key "yes" vote to pass the repeal and replacement plan.

If Republican senators are successful, they would still need to reconcile their bill with the House version, and then President Trump would have to sign it into law.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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