Changing Current Health Care Provisions: The Health Care Act of 2017 Is Being Debated

 

I was asked to represent the BBCC at a roundtable discussion on the American Health Act.  Governor Andrew Cuomo set up meetings throughout the state to educate as many people as possible regarding the impact of the suggested changes to the current health care law. This discussion took place at Stony Brook University’s Charles B. Wang Center. The 16-person panel, chaired by the president of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, consisted of representatives of various organizations throughout the state that are involved in providing medical care to New Yorkers. It was an open meeting, and I was one of more than 50 people in the audience.

The American Health Care Act of 2017, which is now being debated in Congress, is difficult to summarize …

The new, revised health care act will have cuts of certain “essential” benefits such as cancer screening and coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. There will also be a cut of 20 percent to the National Institutes of Health. Both bills — the one in the House and the one in the Senate — would cut billions of dollars of health care spending for middle- and low-income people in order to finance the elimination of the 3.8 percent tax on some investment income for individuals who make more than $200,000 per year. This sounds like a reverse “Robin Hood” policy: Taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

Also proposed is a redesign of Medicaid. There are 400,000 people in Suffolk County who are using Medicaid benefits. Medicaid is a benefit for those who cannot afford the cost of health care. They must apply for and meet certain criteria to receive this benefit. Medicaid is funded by federal, state and county governments. If you have had any experience with Medicaid, you are aware that if someone obtains Medicaid in Queens and later moves into Suffolk County, the local Medicaid office must be notified because the benefit may change with the change in county of residence. The Medicaid benefit is generally paid by the proceeds of sales taxes in the county. There was some discussion at the roundtable regarding the possibility that the federal government may take away its funding, which would put an additional burden on the state and the county that might not be met. These cuts will have an impact on preventive care provisions, such as cancer screening.

Lose insurance and we all will pay for it. There may be job losses and an increase in cancer due to the loss of screening. If we lose the exemption for pre-existing conditions and Medicaid from the federal government, it will be catastrophic,

What can we do about all of this? We can protest by notifying our representatives in Congress. It was stated that the members respond to phone calls and letters.

Senate phone number:  518-455-2800

Rep. Peter King,    1003 Park Blvd    Massapequa Park, NY 11762

Rep. Lee Zeldin,   31 Oak Street       Patchogue NY 11772

Written by:  Judith Parlini RN BSN