New York lawmakers react to the AHCA passing the House

Thursday’s debate about the passage of the American Health Care Aact through the House of Representatives bled into Friday morning, as a flood of statements, comments and measured silence echoed across social media and water coolers.

Our unscientific Twitter poll proved – if nothing else – the tone was rather vitriolic.

Especially once much of the media picked up on New York Representative Chris Collins, who voted yes for the bill, but admitted to not having read it before voting:

Despite being the co-author of an amendment requiring that the state absorb Medicaid costs currently covered by counties, he later told the Buffalo News he was unaware that xxxxx

To his credit, most of the New York Delegates who voted “yay” in Thursday’s vote cited the tax relief the smaller counties of the state would likely see under this provision. Even if it faces likely legal hurdles.

We’ll let Collins’ writing partner John Faso fill you in on the details. His statement on voting “yes” includes:

“The AHCA contains a provision I authored to eliminate the ability of New York State as of 2020 to impose Medicaid costs on county property taxpayers. For a typical homeowner or commercial property owner residing in the 19th District, Medicaid costs represent over 40 percent of their county property tax burden. New York’s Medicaid spending dwarfs that of most other states.”

However, his statement also included this slightly untruthful fact for some reason:

“For instance, New York spends more than Texas and Florida combined, even though these states have more than double our population.”

As of 2010 Census data shows New York with roughly 19.3 million people, Texas with 25.1 million, and Florida trailing both at 18.8 million. To be fair, more recent estimates have Florida pacing New York by about one million people, and Texas as much as seven million, but still well short of “double.”

As one constituent politely pointed out, his statement received more negative, than positive reviews.

Another common thread among the yayers is the theme of “not perfect, but something that had to be done.”

“The American Health Care Act is not perfect,” Elise Stefanik, maybe the biggest surprise among the New York Delegate to vote yes, said. “But it is an important step in reforming our broken healthcare system to help families in our district. As this legislation moves to the Senate, I will continue to work to strengthen the support for those with pre-existing conditions.”

And that brings us to the phrase of the day. Most who oppose the House’s legislation pointed to the enormous list of “pre-existing conditions” insurers could arbitrarily alter your coverage upon having. It also seems especially targeted towards women, with sexual assault and pregnancy on the list of “conditions,” which had many thinking Stefanik was on the fence. Turns out she co-authored legislation as well, and one that will likely have a bigger impact on the final bill than New York County taxes.

“I have kept one of my first promises that I made to you, which is that any law we pass applies to Members of Congress just as it would any citizen. That’s why I’ve coauthored successful legislation to ensure that Congress lives by the same rules in this bill as everyone else. I have also worked to have additional funding added for maternity care and language included to reduce the Medicaid mandate on our local counties.”

Reinforcing the concept that more New Yorkers would not face a threat of losing coverage due to pre-existing conditions, the two other yay-sayers doubled-down on the promise.

Tom Reed:

"Today is a great victory for the American people. We are finally on the path to fixing our broke and broken health care system. The AHCA upholds protections for pre-existing conditions and the expansion of Medicaid, which help our most vulnerable populations. The bill will also provide much needed property tax relief for New Yorkers who are unfairly forced to foot the bill for Medicaid.

Lee Zeldin even offered a Trump impression in his Statement:

“The amount of outright lies about the AHCA that have been manufactured and echoed by individuals and entities have been insane. The bill protects people with pre-existing conditions, and gives states greater flexibility to lower premiums and stabilize the insurance market. The lies about this bill are being perpetuated by the same people who told us if you liked your plan, you could keep your plan, if you liked your doctor, you could keep your doctor, and that premiums under the ACA would decrease by $2,500 per family. “

Rep Dan Donovan, who represents New York’s 11th Congressional District in Staten Island and South Brooklyn, was one of two New York Republicans to vote no on the measure, which wasn’t too surprising given his constituents would bear the brunt of the burden from the Collins-Faso tax break upstate would receive.

However, upstate representative John Katko was a bit more of a surprise, and maybe why he has yet to offer a formal statement. Same for Long Island representative Pete King, who voted yes despite the potential for an unfair burden on downstate New York. In his defense, Katko did offer up something that we rarely see these days in an interview with Syracuse.com: Straight-forwardness.

"I applaud the White House and leadership for trying to fix it, but this fell far short of what I thought my constituents deserve,"

Needless to say, New York’s Democrats felt similarly to Katko, which is why all of them voted against the measure. Some, like Assemblyman Michael Blake, who represents New york’s 79th district in the Bronx, urged a message of compassion, while using his own life as an example.

“As a baby, I was born with a heart murmur; my mother is a breast cancer survivor, and I represent an Assembly District with a disproportionate number of residents facing health inequities. It is personal when access to health care is denied to those who are most vulnerable.”

While Rep Espaillait pulled no punches calling Trumpcare a “gut punch to America.”

Like Katko, the best response from the Democrats came from the most succinct message, as New York’s favorite foul-mouth firebrand Kirstin Gillbrand (trademark pending) summed it up with a simple message.

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