Gov. Andrew Cuomo cheered at House Speaker Paul Ryan‘s decision this afternoon to yank the American Healthcare Act, the GOP’s replacement for the Affordable Care Act—a proposal which included a clause that would have exclusively denied New York reimbursement for several billion dollars it raises from upstate and Long Island counties to pay for its Medicaid program.
Ryan and President Donald Trump suffered a humiliating blow when they failed to whip up sufficient votes in the House to pass AHCA, which would have cut subsidies, proffered tax credits and eliminated Obamacare’s requirement that large employers offer affordable healthcare to their employees. The Democratic governor opposed the plan from the outset, asserting that it would leave 2.7 million New Yorkers without healthcare.
But particularly galling to him was an amendment Ryan added at the recommendation of upstate GOP Congressmen Chris Collins and John Faso, which would have effectively left New York City alone footing the bill for the state’s hyper-costly $60 billion Medicaid program.
“This week, Washington showed the people of this nation a disgusting display of government at its worst,” the governor said in a statement. “We saw members of Congress openly bribe one-another at the expense of their own constituents, racing each other to decimate New York’s healthcare system.”
The $2.3 billion the state extracts from county governments outside the five boroughs has long listed high among the gripes of upstate and Long Island politicians, and the Collins-Faso amendment represented a gambit by Ryan to win over skeptical and skittish New York Republicans. However, it appears to have alienated Staten Island Congressman Daniel Donovan, the city’s only GOP representative, who worried the burden would fall upon his constituents.
New York City currently supplies 56 percent of the Medicaid funding drawn from localities, or around $4.6 billion. Cuomo had spent much of this week warning that the amendment would lead to deaths and hospital closures across the state.
“Some Republican members of Congress apparently forgot who put them there in the first place. So let me remind them: you are elected to fight for your constituents—not hurt them,” the governor said today.
Collins attained his Buffalo-area seat by defeating now-Lieutenant Gov. Kathy Hochul in 2012, two years before Cuomo picked her for his runningmate and understudy. The congressman and governor dueled vituperatively in the press in the days leading up to the planned vote—which was initially booked for yesterday, then rescheduled for this afternoon—and Collins’s office took a final swipe at Cuomo in response to his comments.
“The governor and his sidekick have been unmasked. They could care less about letting the hardworking families of upstate New York keep more of their hard-earned money,” spokesman Michael McAdams told the Observer. “Now, upstate New Yorkers know where Cuomo and Hochul stand on the issues important to them, and they won’t forget any time soon.”
Apparently unwilling to allow Collins to have the last word, the governor’s office reached out to the Observer after this article published with a retort to the legislator. The people of New York elected our members of Congress to serve the interest of New Yorkers, not act against us. Only 17% of the nation supports this dangerous proposal, so I’m wondering: whose side are supporters of this bill on?”
“New Yorkers aren’t stupid,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “Only 17 percent of the nation supports this dangerous proposal, so I’m wondering: whose side are supporters of this bill on?”
Updated to include comment from Azzopardi.