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Hochul visits D.C. to warn lawmakers about health plan's impact

WASHINGTON – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul traveled to the Capitol on Wednesday to meet with New York State’s House delegation – and to warn lawmakers about the dangers she sees the state facing if the Affordable Care Act is replaced with a proposal from House Republicans.

“New York State will be one of the hardest-hit states in the nation,” Hochul said after meeting with lawmakers.

That’s because New York has one of the most expansive Medicaid programs in the country.

Under the GOP’s replacement to the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, the federal government would fund the program with block grants to the states that would limit the federal commitment to the program. And Obamacare’s expansion of the program beyond the very poor would receive less federal funding, pushing more of the costs onto the states.

Beyond its changes to Medicaid, the GOP plan would cut subsidies to low-income workers for buying insurance while cutting taxes on the wealthy. “This is clearly reverse Robin Hood,” Hochul said. “It’s taking from the poor to give to the rich.”

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo dispatched Hochul to meet with the federal lawmakers to discuss not only health care, but also his infrastructure projects, President Trump’s infrastructure plan and the governor’s efforts to raise the age when juveniles can stand trial as adults.

Western New York’s three House members – Reps. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo; Chris Collins, R-Clarence; and Tom Reed, R-Corning – did not attend the delegation meeting because they were busy with the markups for the health bill.

In a Ways and Means Committee markup, Higgins criticized the provision of the bill that gives insurers a tax break for the salaries of their top executives.

“There is only one ‘repeal and replace’ strategy that Congress should entertain,” Higgins said. “Repeal this morally reprehensible provision that allows insurance companies to write off the multimillion-dollar salaries of their CEOs. Replace it with a bill that stops taking advantage of hardworking people and older Americans and admonishes insurance companies to bring executive salaries in line with reality.”

Reed and Collins defended the legislation.

Reed, who met with Trump to discuss the bill Monday, said: “I deeply care about making sure those who need health care coverage not only have access to it, but also have the option to choose a plan that fits their needs and budget. This is a plan that will benefit people across the country.”

Collins appeared on CNN on Tuesday and defended the changes to Medicaid, saying they will force New York’s program to be more frugal.

“New York decides to send taxicab to pick up people on Medicaid to take them to the doctor,” he said. “I don’t know of any other state that does that. That’s the kind of optional program that’s New York is going to have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Why are we doing something no other state in the nation does?’ ”

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