Higgins, Kaleida tell Congress: no Medicaid cuts, preserve Obamacare

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As U.S. lawmakers return to the Capitol from their Fourth of July break, healthcare advocates are turning up the heat against efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) also known as Obamacare.

In Buffalo, Western New York’s largest healthcare provider, and largest healthcare workers union spoke out against the latest Republican healthcare plan pending in the Senate.

Kaleida Health was joined by 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, and U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo), opposing the latest efforts in the Senate to repeal and replace the ACA, with Rep. Higgins introducing a healthcare measure of his own.

Kaleida officials organized this latest gathering at their Highpointe on Michigan nursing and rehabilitation facility, Monday morning, which they say would be especially devastated by rolling back the Medicaid expansion that is an essential part of the Affordable Care Act.

Colleen Kraus, the Senior Director of Long Term Care for Kaleida said, the effects of Medicaid cuts on Highpointe could be devastating, “New York State Medicaid covers over 85 percent of cost of patient care at Highpointe, 85 percent. So just think of that, if Medicaid is cut what happens to the residents and the patients who are here.”

Organizers of the session at Highpointe specifically took aim at the Senate bill called the Better Care and Rehabilitation Act (BCRA).

Rep. Brian Higgins said the latest measures to repeal and replace the ACA are more about taxes than healthcare, “It is about destroying healthcare to facilitate tax cuts for people that don’t need it.”

Clarence Congressman Chris Collins (R-Clarence) said the Better Care Reconciliation Act is dead, due to lack of support, but, speaking in his district office in Lancaster, Collins rejected the claims Republicans are trying to cut Medicaid.

“There is no truth whatsoever in any discussion for any of the traditional Medicaid–the blind, disabled, the young moms, the children, the elderly, or those in poverty–there never was one dollar of cut to any of them.”

Higgins is sponsoring a measure in the U.S. House of Representatives that would allow Americans who do not qualify for Medicare now to buy their healthcare coverage through Medicare.

“We should get together, Republicans and Democrats, to do a bill that protects patients, and puts the decision-making for health care in the hands of doctors and their patients.”

Medicaid is the government program covering medical expenses for low income Americans. Medicare is mostly to cover healthcare costs for Social Security recipients. Higgins said Medicare has worked well enough, those who are not on Social Security to be allowed to buy into it.

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