ACA repeal could have big impact on North Country

Vice President-elect Mike Pence (Photo provided)

PLATTSBURGH — The threat of Republican leaders in Washington to repeal the federal Affordable Care Act has state and local officials watching closely.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence said Wednesday that the first action of the new administration would be to try to do away with Obamacare.

But New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a repeal of the ACA would have a major impact on the state and local governments.

The number of local people in jeopardy of losing health insurance is 7,787 in Clinton County, 3,660 in Essex County and 5,110 in Franklin County, according to the governor’s office.

Clinton County Administrator Michael Zurlo said County Social Services Commissioner John Redden is looking into the potential impact of a possible repeal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Photo provided by the governor's office)

“We are closely monitoring this and analyzing the numbers, and hopefully the situation is remedied as such that local governments and taxpayers do not feel any deleterious effects,” Zurlo said.

More than 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose coverage, a press release from the governor’s office said, and the state budget would be impacted by about $3.7 billion.

Counties across the state would lose more than $595 million in direct spending, and state residents would lose about $250 million in health-care savings tax credits, those calculations indicated.

Feedback on fix

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro (Photo provided)

North Country Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, is in support of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Her spokesman, Thomas Flanagan, said Wednesday that when she speaks with constituents across the district, one of the most frequent concerns she hears about are families and businesses struggling under Obamacare.

The law has led to crippling costs and reduced coverage for far too many across the district, Flanagan said.

“Congresswoman Stefanik supports repealing and replacing this law with common-sense solutions that will increase access to quality, affordable health care for North Country families, while maintaining some of the most important protections for those with pre-existing conditions and those on their parents’ health plans,” he said.

Assemblyman David "Billy" Jones, D-Chateaugay (Photo provided)

“Congresswoman Stefanik knows that health care is a critical issue for families across our district and is soliciting feedback from constituents and stakeholders across our district on how to best fix the severe problems caused by the Affordable Care Act.”

Stefanik was re-elected to her second term last November in the 21st District.

Flanagan said that in her first term, she was a leading voice for bipartisan fixes to the Affordable Care Act; she was the author of repeal of the automatic-enrollment mandate, the largest fix to the Affordable Care Act made by the last Congress.


State Assemblyman David “Billy” Jones, D-Chateaugay, said he is concerned that potentially more than 12,000 people in the 115th District, which encompasses all of Clinton and Franklin counties and four small towns in eastern St. Lawrence County, could lose health coverage, putting their health and well-being on the line.

“As elected officials, we have an obligation to ensure that health care, which is a basic human right, is not only accessible but affordable for all New Yorkers,” said Jones, who just took office this week.

“We must make providing our communities, and all families, with options that allow them to have the health-care plan that fits their needs at an affordable cost, a priority, and ensure that important patient protections and benefits remain in place.”

“Powerful tool”

“The cost of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, to state and local budgets and to the New Yorkers who depend on its health-care coverage, is simply too high to justify,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“Since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act has become a powerful tool to lower the cost of health insurance for local governments and New Yorkers, and it is essential that the federal government does not jeopardize the health and livelihoods of millions of working families.”

Coverage at risk

The New York State of Health Exchange has successfully cut the percentage of uninsured New Yorkers in half, from 10 to 5 percent, the governor said.

It has also significantly expanded eligibility and access to health coverage, allowing hundreds of thousands of previously uninsured New Yorkers to achieve economic and health-care security, the release said.

And based on current enrollment levels, it said, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would result in over 2.7 million New Yorkers losing health coverage.

(Editor’s note: Four daily newspapers in the North Country — the Enterprise, Post-Star of Glens Falls, Watertown Daily Times and Press-Republican of Plattsburgh — are sharing content to better cover New York’s politics.)