As Health Care bill vote looms, Lt. Gov. fires back against Medicaid amendment

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – House lawmakers are expected to vote late Friday afternoon on a G.O.P. backed measure to repeal and replace Obamacare, and while the debate continues on the House floor about the bill, the debate here at home rages on about a particular provision that would impact New York State.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has gone on the offensive to fight back against an amendment from Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY 27th District) that takes the burden of Medicaid funding off most counties in New York State, and applies to New York State only.

“He says we should deny the state of New York $2.3 billion in assistance under the Medicaid program because that’s the share that the counties are now contributing,” Hochul told News 4 Friday morning. “There’s been a formula in place since the 1960s.”

To be fair, local, state, and federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have long gone back and forth about that Medicaid formula, which determines how much of the bill counties have to pick up for healthcare for the poor and elderly without resources. This isn’t a new fight.

What is new, and according to the Lieutenant Governor, most alarming, is how this Medicaid measure has been put in as part of the federal health care bill, but covers only New York State. Hochul says Collins is essentially telling the state “you go figure it out” with his amendment, which would require the state to find the money in its budget to pick up what had been the counties’ share of Medicaid funding, banning federal reimbursement for state Medicaid funds for local governments outside of New York City.

In fact, Collins has said “figure it out” to the state about this, when he spoke with Niagara and Erie County Republican leaders over the weekend. “How is it that Albany decides the entire makeup of the Medicaid we offer in New York, which is far more away than any state in the nation and it forces the county to pick up the bill, that’s not right,” Rep. Collins said. “We are going to take that $2.3 billion being shoved down taxpayers throats across New York State and we’re going to make Albany figure out, it’s 1.5 percent that’s all of Albany’s $153 million dollar budget, let them decide a Medicaid program that works for the taxpayers of New York.”

MORE | Click here for more on what Collins and local GOP leaders say about the amendment

Hochul on Friday fired back, warning that the state doesn’t have the money to pick up the county’s share, and requiring it to do so would harm local residents’ healthcare options and threaten local jobs in the healthcare field.

“They talk about this in the medical profession: Principle number one for doctors is “do no harm.’ The same should apply for your congressman,” Hochul said.

“These are our own citizens,” Hochul said. “So you’re telling our own citizens you’re going to have to endure a tax increase to cover these costs or we’re going to have to take some dire steps and have those cuts to the tune of $2.3 billion, and I can tell you right here in Western New York, that’s a $65 million hit to our hospitals. ECMC alone stands to lose 20 million dollars.”

The Governor’s office released results of an analysis by the New York State Department of Health Friday morning, which shows that 10,043 nursing home and hospital jobs are in danger and 238,788 patients risk losing care in the 27th Congressional District if the Collins amendment and healthcare repeal is passed. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would also result in $35.7 million in cuts for 34 nursing homes and $7.8 million in cuts for 8 hospitals in Congressman Collins’ district, the Governor’s office said.

Late Friday morning, a delegation of Republican Congressmen from New York, including Reps. Reed, Stefanik, Faso, Tenney, and Zeldin, contested Cuomo’s claims, issuing a statement that said, “The Governor is threatening cuts to everything from hospitals to nursing homes, but neither the AHCA nor the Collins/Faso amendment would result in such funds being pulled by the federal government. The amendment shifts the county share of Medicaid costs to New York State. If Gov. Cuomo is resorting to fear tactics for political purposes, he is also admitting that other forms of state spending are more important than providing health care to vulnerable populations” 

According to the release from the Governor’s office Friday, the following hospital jobs and patients are at risk in Collins’ district alone if the American Health Care Act with the Medicaid Amendment is passed:

Hospital Patients Employees
Bertrand Chaffee Hospital  15,770  296
Eastern Niagara Hospital – Lockport Division  23,971  531
F F Thompson Hospital  52,080  1,066
Medina Memorial Hospital  9,917  328
Mount St Mary’s Hospital and Health Center  36,269  634
Nicholas H Noyes Memorial Hospital  25,954  406
United Memorial Medical Center  44,015  678
Wyoming County Community Hospital  15,076  487
District Total – $7,844,824 in cuts  223,052  4,425

The following nursing home jobs and patients are at risk:

Nursing Home Patients Employees
Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Aurora Park  963  366
Livingston County Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation  668  305
North Gate Health Care Facility  826  273
Our Lady of Peace Nursing Care Residence  899  311
Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Orchard Park  547  245
Autumn View Health Care Facility LLC  1,470  336
Genesee County Nursing Home  420  199
Brothers Of Mercy Nursing & Rehabilitation Center  833  348
Orchard Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center  516  179
Elderwood at Hamburg  819  230
Odd Fellow & Rebekah Rehabilitation & Health Care Center Inc  509  170
Aaron Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center  392  140
The Villages of Orleans Health and Rehabilitation Center  277  68
Fairport Baptist Homes  478  228
Western New York State Veterans Home  177  168
Leroy Village Green Residential Health Care Facility Inc  382  174
Father Baker Manor  777  219
Ontario Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare  331  58
Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Gasport  311  98
Newfane Rehab & Health Care Center  470  170
Fiddlers Green Manor Rehabilitation and Nursing Center  172  84
Elderwood at Lancaster  345  132
East Side Nursing Home  239  105
Greenfield Health and Rehabilitation Center  1,240  245
Crest Manor Living and Rehabilitation Center  229  97
Batavia Health Care Center LLC  261  80
Briody Health Care Facility  309  117
Jennie B Richmond Chaffee Nursing Home Company Inc  288  77
Absolut Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation at Eden  82  47
Elm Manor Nursing Home  143  55
Conesus Lake Nursing Home LLC  139  59
Avon Nursing Home LLC  94  55
St Johns Penfield Homes Corporation  29  30
Fox Run at Orchard Park  101  151
District Total – $35,685,816 in cuts  15,736  5,618

Governor Cuomo has threatened to sue over the proposed amendment if the new Health Care Bill passes, calling the measure unconstitutional.

A vote in the House was postponed Thursday when leaders realized they didn’t have enough “yes” votes for the measure to move on. After late night negotiations, the debate began again Friday morning.

President Donald Trump has demanded a vote by the end of Friday, or, according to his budget director, he’ll move onto other priorities.

Friday morning, Rep. Brian Higgins issued the following statement, in which he warned he will be voting against the American Health Care Act: “The Affordable Care Act was a start not a finish.  The Republicans have had 7 years to develop changes.  I certainly welcome constructive dialogue on how to improve care and costs for Americans but the bill currently before us does neither.  I will vote no on this bill and the disastrous amendments that raid Medicaid and eliminate the guarantee of essential benefit coverage.”

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