Andrew Cuomo Rips Paul Ryan’s ‘Rabid Conservative Orthodoxy’ on Health Care

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference to announce that Spotify will move an office to 4 World Trade Center in the Financial District, February 15, 2017 in New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tore into House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump’s proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act today and the “rabid conservative orthodoxy” behind it—and into a pair of upstate GOP congressman who have proposed a controversial amendment to the Ryan-Trump plan.

Cuomo said that the American Healthcare Act—the House GOP’s package of legislation that would supplant Obamacare—would lead to a loss of $4.6 billion over four years for New York State and at least $2.4 billion a year by fiscal year 2020. The Democratic governor said that he had arrived at those figures after meeting with healthcare providers from across the state to discuss the impact of the Republican designs.

“My greatest fear from last year’s election became true, which is you would have a rabid conservative ideology in Washington that would tell New York to drop dead and that is exactly what is going on,” Cuomo said. “You have a Paul Ryan, ultra conservative Congress that has been talking about making dramatic changes that will be devastating to New York for a long time. President Obama frankly held Paul Ryan and the rabid conservatives in check and now Paul Ryan has been unleashed and what you’re seeing is the rabid conservative orthodoxy that he’s been speaking about for years.”

The governor had suggested in November that his fellow Queens native’s election to the White House would be “a bonus”—though he backed away from that assertion shortly afterward. The American Healthcare Act would proffer tax credits, cut subsidies and end the requirement that large employers offer their workers affordable insurance—which Mayor Bill de Blasio has asserted would strip 1.6 million residents from the five boroughs of coverage.

Cuomo noted that Trump’s budget includes cuts that would significantly impact New Yorkers, including to low-income housing funds, the food stamp program and community block grant funds. He also recalled that Trump promised that no American would lose their insurance, but noted that the Congressional Budget Office reported that 24 million Americans—including 2.7 million New Yorkers—will find themselves uncovered if the American Healthcare Act passes.

A spokeswoman for Ryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Cuomo also blasted Western New York Congressman Chris Collins and upstate Congressman John Faso for proposing an amendment to the bill that would bar federal reimbursements for New York State Medicaid funds raised from local governments. The proposal only applies to the $2.3 billion being raised from counties outside of New York City.

Obamacare offered largely open-ended reimbursements to states for expanded Medicaid spending, and the New York program has become one of the costliest in the nation.

He said that the two congressmen are sacrificing the needs of their constituents for the sake of “their politics,” saying that they have “sworn allegiance to Ryan and the radical right.”

“This amendment says the counties don’t have to pay,” Cuomo said. “That means you cut Medicaid even more when you take off the county’s responsibility. It would be an additional $2.3 billion cut to Medicaid and that’s just in the areas—downstate New York and Long Island, that’s where the amendment is affected. New York State is the only state in the nation affected by this amendment, the only state in the nation, and it is cheap politics at best.” 

Cuomo did not explicitly mention Trump until a reporter pressed him to discuss the president’s role at the end of the press conference. He said although the budget and plan are Trump’s, he asserted that Congress is now driving the plan.

“We’re talking about two Republican congressman, Mr. Faso is a Republican congressman, Mr. Collins is a Republican congressman and this is Paul Ryan who is trying to get it passed and that’s the issue we’re talking about today,” the governor said.

He added that he believes the president is more open to understanding New York and “less likely to demonize New York.” Over the course of his career, Cuomo has been the single biggest beneficiary of the Queens-born mogul’s political largesse—which could prove a problem for the governor as he explores a possible run for president himself.

Collins’s office reacted with an attack on the governor, asserting the Democrat has unfairly burdened hard-pressed counties with unfair expenses.

“Property taxpayers across New York state should take note of what side Governor Cuomo is on. Despite the opportunity for significant property tax relief, the governor has chosen to side with special interests and continue to saddle Upstate New York with unfunded mandates from Albany,” said spokesman Michael McAdams. “This amendment will provide New York the mandate relief the governor promised, but failed to deliver.”

Collins, who represents areas outside of Buffalo, was the first sitting congressman to endorse Trump for the presidency.

George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU, said that members of Congress currently have universal healthcare “thanks to the American people” and said that “we have been betrayed” by Collins and Faso.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we have to be here today,” Gresham said. “I will say American in general and New York in particular has been sold a bill of goods. The American Healthcare Act is just what it says: it acts as if it’s taking care of America’s healthcare but in fact it does not do that.”

Andrew Cuomo Rips Paul Ryan’s ‘Rabid Conservative Orthodoxy’ on Health Care