Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Laura Curran called for Nassau’s federal representatives to oppose Republicans’ proposed health care law, saying it would have a “devastating” local impact.
Acknowledging that county officials have no real authority over health care policy, the second-term county legislator, said the U.S. Senate Republicans’ bill could hurt thousands of Nassau residents and hamper Long Island’s economy.
“Donald Trump and Washington Republicans are putting us in a lose-lose situation,” Curran said at a news conference outside South Nassau Communities Hospital in Oceanside.
Curran said County Executive Edward Mangano should study the local impact of any proposed changes to the federal health care law.
Senate Republicans announced their proposal to reform the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature law, last month. Like a bill the House of Representatives passed in May, it would cut federal health care costs and significantly roll back Medicaid spending.
The Senate plan would cause 22 million people to lose insurance coverage while reducing the federal deficit by $321 billion by 2026, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
The Medicaid cuts would affect 64 percent of people in nursing homes, 39 percent of children, including 60 percent children with disabilities, Curran said, citing data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy group. Medicaid also covers about 60 percent of drug addiction treatment services, Curran said.
Federal funding cuts to Planned Parenthood would also hurt the 15,000 people who use its clinics in Nassau each year, Curran said.
Curran cited an estimate from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office that more than 133,000 Nassau residents — about 1 in 10 — would lose health coverage if the Affordable Care Act was fully repealed.
Wendy Fein of Roslyn, a Curran supporter, said she is most worried about increased costs for older people and fewer protections for those with pre-existing conditions.
“I’m very concerned about what’s going to happen, not just nationally but here in Nassau County,” Fein said.
The Affordable Care Act greatly expanded Long Island’s health care industry, which employs around 218,000 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Curran said.
Brian Nevin, a spokesman for Mangano, a Republican, said his administration is still reviewing the bill, but that “there are aspects that would allow Nassau County to cut property taxes by $235 million — helping reduce the tax burden borne by all homeowners.”
Nevin was referring to a provision in the federal plans proposed by upstate U.S. Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso that would require New York State to cover Medicaid contributions for each county outside New York City.
Curran called the proposal “half-baked.”
But Jack Martins, the Republican nominee to replace Mangano supports it, saying the tax relief it provides should be a point of bipartisan agreement.
“Everyone knows that Trumpcare and Obamacare are broken and need to be fixed,” Martins said in a statement. “All Nassau County families, including our seniors, deserve quality affordable healthcare. But we need to work together to find solutions and not play politics with this issue.”
Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, a former Republican who is now running a Democratic primary against Curran, accused her of playing local politics with national issues.
Maragos opposes the House health reform bill and the plan to have the state cover Medicaid costs, calling the latter “a betrayal of New Yorkers by upstate Republicans.” He has also spoken critically of the Affordable Care Act.
“Health care is a major issue that deserves the priority of our federal representatives,” Maragos said in a statement. “Legislator Curran staged another political stunt on issues over which the county executive has no control and neglects pressing local issues that will end corruption and lower property taxes.”