Congressman Daniel Donovan, the only Republican representing any part of the five boroughs in Washington, revealed to the Observer last night that he would oppose an amendment two of his GOP colleagues got added to Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump’s proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act.
Western New York Congressman Chris Collins and Upstate Congressman John Faso convinced Ryan to add a special proviso to the American Healthcare Act that would bar the federal government from reimbursing New York State for Medicaid funds collected from counties outside New York City. Obamacare had largely compensated states for expanding Medicaid to cover more of their citizens, a measure the Republican plan would phase out and replace with block grants.
The new clause was a gambit by the speaker to win over skeptical and skittish upstate and Long Island Republicans—but Donovan indicated that he could not support the bill with the stipulation attached, noting that it would force the cost onto his constituents.
“The provision excludes New York City, putting an unfair and disproportionate burden on city residents to cover the state’s exorbitant Medicaid expenses,” Donovan said in a statement to the Observer, noting that New York’s Medicaid program is among the most expensive in the nation. “We need healthcare reform—including promised Medicaid reform in New York where we spend more than Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania combined—but it shouldn’t be done on the backs of already overburdened city residents who will undoubtedly have a tax increase created by this eminently unfair policy.”
Donovan said he had been in talks about the issue with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, both Democrats who have both voiced their opposition to the “Collins Amendment.” The congressman also met with the president today to voice what he described as his “deep and serious concerns” about the American Healthcare Act, which would cut subsidies, proffer tax credits, end Obamacare’s individual mandate and eliminate its requirement that large employers offer workers affordable insurance.
According to de Blasio’s estimates, it would deprive 1.6 million New York City residents of coverage received under the ACA.
Trump reportedly warned House Republicans in a closed-door meeting today that he would support primary challenges against them if they did not vote in favor of the replacement program. Donovan’s district overwhelmingly supported the president in both New York’s April primary last year and in the November election.
The legislator issued the statement to the Observer in reaction to comments from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which appears to be preparing to contest the lawmaker’s Staten Island and Brooklyn turf for the first time since 2014.
“House Republicans are about to pass a massive tax increase on Representative Donovan’s constituents and he hasn’t uttered a word against it,” said DCCC spokesman Evan Lukaske in a press release yesterday evening. “Donovan should explain to hardworking New Yorkers why he’s not fighting against a Republican bill that could increase their state tax burden, puts an age tax on older Americans, increases insurance premiums and strips coverage from one million New Yorkers, including 82,000 of Donovan’s own constituents.”
A Donovan campaign spokeswoman fired back, asserting the incumbent was already pushing back on the provision and mocking the Democratic electoral organization as an arm of the party establishment in Washington.
“Another swing and a miss from the DCCC. The congressman is already working with the governor and the New York City mayor, while they are issuing ignorant statements from their cubicles at [Democratic National Committee] headquarters,” said Jessica Proud.