Source: Queens Gazette
Following the failure of Senate Republicans’ proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) hosted a roundtable at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue with healthcare professionals, patient advocates, and concerned constituents to discuss the future of the healthcare law. The group focused on steps forward, strategies for strengthening the ACA, and ways to combat the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the landmark legislation.
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans have access to good, affordable health care. We need to preserve the protections the ACA put in place and build on our progress,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “Democrats and Republicans must work together to bring down costs and expand coverage to really deliver the A–affordable–of the ACA. Although the ACA has done really tremendous things, a stronger, better version can do more, and it’s up to us in Congress to make that happen. Prices are still too high. There are counties where the exchanges have one or no insurers. We can do better. If Republicans can drop their obsession with repealing the ACA, then we can get to work on making sure all Americans have access to good, affordable and reliable healthcare.”
Peter Morley, a New Yorker with life-threatening medical conditions, said, “My health is declining, and I am not sure how much longer I will be here to share my story and lend my voice, but I will continue to stand here because the fight makes me feel like I am not helpless or invisible. Without the Affordable Care Act I would not be able to afford my healthcare. But I know that there is still a lot of work that could be done to make the ACA even better. I have had 9 surgeries in 10 years. I have lupus, which is slowly attacking my liver. I have a rare liver disease called regenerative hyperplasia and another rare condition known as watermelon stomach. I receive lifesaving infusions each month to help with my lupus and have to be checked frequently by medical professionals. I urge Republicans and Democrats to work together so that every single American can have access to affordable and reliable healthcare. We all know someone who has been helped by the Affordable Care Act. I know firsthand that your health can change in an instant. That is why I will not stop until each of us has the coverage we need and deserve.”
Michael Rawlings, Chief Operating Officer of NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue said, “Ironically, while there has been an endless stream of messages about reforming health care in recent months, what’s been missing is open, productive dialogue, like we had today. This was a welcome opportunity to discuss real-world health care priorities, as well as to explore ideas to address those priorities.”
“Bringing together patient advocates and healthcare providers with local elected officials is a common-sense, grassroots approach,” said John Jurenko, Vice President of Government, Community Relations & Planning at NYC Health + Hospitals. “This was a constructive step to start a meaningful discussion, and I hope other elected officials will follow Congresswoman Maloney’s lead in stopping to listen and learn.”
Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried said, “Donald Trump’s threat to end the ACA’s federal subsidies puts at risk people’s health, their family finances, healthcare providers’ stability, and state budgets. Eliminating the subsidies will prove extraordinarily painful for millions of working families. New Yorkers should be proud of their federal legislators like Carolyn Maloney, who will fight any move to destabilize health insurance exchanges, but ultimately the best way to close gaps in coverage and provide affordable universal coverage will be through an improved Medicare for all system. New York can lead the way now by enacting the New York Health Act.”
“The Affordable Care Act is responsible for providing insurance to 2.7 million New Yorkers, and its loss would cost New York State up to $4 billion. Rather than tear it down, we should continue to build on its success,” said NYS Senator Brad Hoylman. “Whether through fixes as broad as a public option or as simple as changing the open enrollment period to a more convenient time for consumers, we have tools at our disposal to bring affordable healthcare to everyone. I’m very grateful to Congresswoman Maloney for bringing us together for this important discussion.”
“The Affordable Care Act has helped millions of Americans get the health insurance they need to live healthy lives,” said NYC Councilman Ben Kallos. “When Congress passed the ACA many amendments were necessary to pass this historic legislation, but now is the time to revisit those amendments and make it even stronger. Thank you to Congress Member Carolyn Maloney for leading the charge on protecting and improving the Affordable Care Act.”
“While New York has done an exemplary job in implementing the Affordable Care Act, there are still things to be done to improve our individual and small group markets,” said Mark Hannay, Director of Metro New York Health Care for All. “While prices have dropped dramatically under the new law, premiums and deductibles are still unaffordable for many, provider networks are too narrow, and plan selections limited in some counties. Allowing New York to create a “public health insurance option” available to those in the private market in all counties could really help address these problems.”
Roundtable participants discussed the need for stabilizing the healthcare markets by ensuring that the federal government continues to provide the cost-sharing reduction payments set forth by the ACA to help insurers cover the cost of covering low-income Americans. The President has threatened to terminate these payments as a way to force Congress to repeal the ACA, and this uncertainty has created significant turmoil in the markets. Cutting these payments would cause premiums to skyrocket by nearly 20%.