Democratic challenger for NY-21 attacks Stefanik for supporting American Health Care Act; Gillibrand says Senate must defeat bill
Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 5:26 pm

In the wake of her vote in favor of the controversial American Health Care Act, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is catching heat from her rival Patrick Nelson D-Stillwater.

Stefanik said she was supporting to the legislation in a statement released prior to the vote.

“Throughout this process, I have worked to make sure our district has had a seat at the table,” Stefanik said in a statement today through her aide Tom Flanigan.

“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.”

An earlier version of the bill drew concern from local health care leaders at hospitals in Ogdensburg, Massena and Potsdam. It is not yet clear if those officials share similar view on the latest version of the bill, which is designed to replace former President Barak Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Nelson is hoping to unseat Stefanik in the upcoming race for the NY-21 Congressional District.

"The American Health Care Act is not perfect, but it is an important step in reforming our broken healthcare system to help families in our district," stated Congresswoman Stefanik on her official Facebook page.

The bill she voted for is a $1 trillion tax cut for the wealthiest 1 percent, disguised as a health plan at the expense of the sick and dying, he said.

Congresswoman Stefanik has also removed pre-existing condition coverage and sticking the sick into high-risk pools with funding of only $8 billion over five years, Nelson said.

Nelson was in Glens Falls earlier today with concerned citizens protesting the congresswoman's decision. Many voiced their concerns by marching up and down the street with signs such as, "Health Care is a Human Right," with the hope of changing Congresswoman Stefanik's mind.

"Our congresswoman claimed she would be bipartisan on important issues. This is a very important issue. She has backed out of her promise by voting against her constituents," said Nelson. "Congresswoman Stefanik, this campaign will heavily feature health care. The North Country will remember."

Meanwhile U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says the Republican Health Care bill that passed in the House of Representatives today, must be defeated in the Senate.

“The Trump health care bill that passed today on a party-line vote is atrocious and must be defeated in the Senate. Health care shouldn’t be about politics – it is about people – and this bill would harm people. The only beneficiaries of this bill are big insurance companies and the wealthiest among us, with the price tag being paid by everyone else through higher premiums, less coverage, and millions of vulnerable Americans losing their insurance,” she said in a prepared statement.

Gillibrand says older Americans will be forced to pay more for their health care through an age tax that lets insurance companies charge those aged 50-64 higher premiums and up to 24 million Americans with insurance today could lose that coverage. 
She also says individuals with pre-existing conditions could lose their protections against premium discrimination granted under Obamacare.

“Obamacare isn’t perfect. Health insurance is still too costly for most Americans, and Congress should fix that. There are two ways to do that. Subsidize insurance companies further with taxpayer dollars or create a not-for-profit public option that cuts insurance companies and their profits out of the equation to lower premiums, drug prices, and out-of-pocket costs for everyone. I believe we should fight for that public option – but until then, I will work as hard as I can to defeat this misguided and purely political effort that will hurt New York families.”

Assemblywoman Addie Jenne, D-Theresa, is also weighing in, despite being a state official and therefore unable to vote on the bill.

“Today’s vote in the House of Representatives to ‘overhaul’ the American healthcare system walks back years of progress and underscores what we’ve known for a long time: we need universal healthcare. If the Senate passes the legislation rushed through the House of Representatives today without major changes, people in the North Country will be severely impacted. Health insurance companies will be able to charge older adults up to five times what they charge younger people for the same services. States will be able to opt-out of requiring insurers to cover basic, life-saving services like maternity care or emergency services. States could also end the requirement that insurance companies cover people regardless of a preexisting condition. Further, the healthcare bill includes a $300 billion giveaway to the richest Americans by eliminating a payroll tax and certain taxes on investments that was used to support basic healthcare services for those who could least afford it,” she said in a prepared statement. “It’s clear that Congress members who voted for this legislation prioritized the pocketbooks of their wealthy friends over the healthcare of their constituents. In New York I have been a long-time supporter of universal healthcare (A4738). It has passed for the last two years in a row in the Assembly and it’s time for the Senate to bring the bill to a vote.”

Attorney General Eric Schneidermann said he plans to challenge the American Health Care Act in court, should it be signed into law.

“The healthcare bill passed today by House Republicans is a threat to the health and wellbeing of all New Yorkers. In addition to the devastating impact this bill would have on every New Yorker’s access to affordable healthcare, the legislation that passed the House today is unconstitutional in several critical respects—and I stand ready to challenge it in court. First, House Republicans’ attempt to effectively deny women access to reproductive healthcare services is a cruel and unconstitutional attack on women’s rights - especially the most vulnerable,” he said in a prepared statement. “Further, the Collins-Faso Amendment is a cynical ploy by House Republican leadership and President Trump that exceeds Congress’s authority by interfering with how New York has long elected to fund its Medicaid program. This bill threatens to slash essential healthcare services for millions of New Yorkers who need them the most. For these reasons, if this disastrous and unconstitutional healthcare bill is ultimately signed into law, I will challenge it in court.”