Almost 300,000 Long Islanders would lose their health insurance if Obamacare is repealed by the incoming Trump administration, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who announced the pending impact on New York in a statement released Wednesday.
“The cost of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, to state and local budgets and to the New Yorkers who depend on its health care coverage, is simply too high to justify,” said Cuomo. “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.”
At present, the New York State Health Exchange has expanded coverage to more than 2.7 million residents, cutting the percentage of uninsured New Yorkers from 10 percent to 5 percent. In Nassau, 133,324 people are at risk of losing coverage; in Suffolk 152,631.
At the state level, the economic impact of the Affordable Care Act’s repeal would mean a loss of $595 million. According to the governor, New York’s counties have been able to directly use the additional federal Medicaid funding through Obamacare to lower property taxes. If Republicans in Congress carry out their promise to repeal Obamacare, Nassau County could lose $17,866,829 and Suffolk could lose $18,310,813.
The Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council said the repeal could cost Long Island hospitals around $3.2 billion in lost revenue over the next decade, the major loss coming from reductions in Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments, which compensates hospitals that care for uninsured patients, sometimes referred to as “safety net discharges.”
“In Suffolk County, Catholic Health Services provides the largest number of safety net discharges through its eastern hospitals: Good Samaritan, St. Charles and St. Catherine,” said Christine Hendriks, a Catholic Health Services spokeswoman. “This commitment to assisting the poor and underserved is integral to our mission. If the underpinnings of the Affordable Car Act are not replaced, either through DSH payments or other previously cut subsidies, then the volume of those cared for will create a considerable financial strain on CHS that will be felt immediately.”
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The view from our region’s largest health care provider, Northwell Health, was more forgiving.
“While the Affordable Care Act has its flaws, it has expanded health care access to more than 20 million Americans who were previously uninsured,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and chief executive officer at Northwell, in a statement. “It has also expedited the progress that Northwell and other health systems were already making in improving quality, containing costs and holding providers more accountable for the care they deliver…Instead of pursuing radical, highly problematic solutions to the healthcare challenges we face, I encourage lawmakers to work collaboratively on pursuing more-reasonable and more-gradual measures that will make the best care possible available to as many of us as possible.”
Long Island’s ranking Republican in Congress, Rep. Pete King (R-Seaford) is hoping to soften the blow, should the ACA get the axe.
“I support repealing and replacing Obamacare while protecting all beneficiaries,” the Congressman told the Press in an email. “That is why I met with the governor’s top health advisors today and assured them I would work hard to minimize any negative impacts to New York and Long Island–long term and short term.”
His Republican colleague from the East End, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), took the governor’s press release to task for failing to acknowledge how “flawed” Obamacare is.
“Nothing at all is included about any of the lost doctors, cancelled policies, higher premiums or higher deductibles that New Yorkers are now facing,” said Zeldin in a statement to the Press. He noted that the state’s Health Exchange had just one co-op, Health Republic of New York, which “collapsed” because the entity the state picked to run it, the Freelancers Union, was incompetent. Zeldin also criticized the governor for failing to rein in the state’s huge Medicaid costs.
“New York State spends more money on Medicaid than Illinois, Texas and Florida combined,” claimed the Congressman. “New York has the same population as Florida, but spends more money on Medicaid costs than Florida spends on its entire state budget.”
Zeldin insists that Obamacare is going to be “repealed and replaced.” But the Congressman added that he’s open to the governor’s suggestions if Cuomo has “a good idea that productively contributes to the future of health care…In the meantime, he is not part of the solution by conspiring with allies to cook up half-baked numbers to scare people about a particular course of action that is divorced from reality.”