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The Legislature, by unanimous vote, registered its opposition to repeal of the Affordable Care Act without an acceptable commensurate healthcare alternative. The Legislature calls about its representatives in Washington—Congressman Reed, and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand—“to vote against any repeal of the…Act unless and until it is replaced by another nationwide alternative with protections for the public commensurate with the goals of the ACA or a single-payer health insurance program that is adopted only following an extensive public review and comment period.”
The measure notes, in part, that the ACA has provided expanded access to and improved health care for many of the county’s residents, and that its repeal, according to the Governor’s estimates, would put health insurance and health care of nearly 8,000 of our citizens at risk, would cut Federal reimbursement for the County’s Medicaid expenditures by over a million dollars, adversely affect Medicare recipients, and significantly increase the property tax burden for residents of Tompkins County. It cites the finding of the Congressional Budget Office that the ACA has helped reduce the country’s deficit and extended the future solvency of Medicare, and repeal of the ACA would reverse those positive fiscal trends.
Before considering the resolution, Legislators listened to an hour of impassioned comment from members of the public. Eighteen people addressed the Legislature, urging passage of the resolution and the importance of preserving the healthcare it has provided for many. Many indicated that what is really needed is a single-payer system or “Medicare for all,” such as would be provided under the proposed “New York Health Act’ that has twice passed the State Assembly. One of those urging passage was former County Legislator Pam Mackesey, who remarked, “This body has historically made right decisions…. This is a travesty, what’s happening in this country…I strongly urge you to pass this and join the fight to push back …We are in big trouble if we allow this to happen.”
Among Legislators speaking in support before the vote was were several who acknowledged that there may be some aspects of the ACA that need repair, but that it needs to be fixed, not repealed. Legislator Jim Dennis said, “I think all of us recognize that there are downsides to it…but there are many upsides,” and that it “would be a sin” to have it repealed. Legislator Rich John said, “The idea of repealing the ACA without knowing what’s next is reckless” and it’s time for all to get together to fix it. Republican Mike Sigler said he has serious reservations about the ACA as it now stands, that it is simply not solvent, and poses hardship for many in small business and those who are faced with high deductibles. But he said that the program has helped a lot of people and cannot support outright repeal and have people, such as those with preexisting conditions, go without health insurance, that something will first be needed to replace it.