Southern Tier Can’t Afford ACA Repeal – Leslie Danks Burke

In this year’s “change” election, voters in our region picked President-elect Donald Trump — but voted against change everywhere else.

So even though I outperformed most Democrats by winning 45 percent of the vote in a district that is only 32 percent Democratic, I still lost, as we saw all of our federal and state legislators re-elected.

Change at the top combined with no change elsewhere has consequences, and the first test will be the potential repeal of Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act). Repeal without a replacement would raid our pocketbooks and demolish our health care here in the Southern Tier.

First hurt will be seniors on Medicare. The ACA kept Medicare solvent until 2029, and that stability will disappear. Preventive coverage like free colonoscopies, mammograms, stop-smoking programs and medical screenings will end; drug prices will go up. Yet even for fewer services, seniors will pay more.

Next harmed will be women, with cost savings eliminated. Before the ACA, private insurers could charge women more than men; now they can again. Required coverage for birth control, mammograms and annual physicals will disappear. We’ll pay more, yet lose no-cost annual physicals for kids, extended kids’ health insurance until 26, and caps on lifetime health care for catastrophically expensive health conditions. On top of these changes everywhere, Medicaid will be expressly banned for Planned Parenthood, cutting off access to the only Medicaid-accepting provider for thousands in our area.

Working folks who don’t earn enough to buy insurance beyond Medicaid will lose. The ACA funds subsidies so everyone can access insurance. Gutting the Medicaid expansion and eliminating these payments will especially hurt regions like ours, where we struggle to retain good-paying jobs. In Yates County, 18 percent of residents rely on Medicaid, 21 percent in Steuben, 25 percent in Chemung. Even in relatively prosperous Tompkins County, it’s 13 percent.

Even if you’re not a senior, a woman or low-income, your property taxes will go up. Rep. Tom Reed says he’ll push block grants, cutting Medicaid funds. Unlike any other state, New York charges property taxes for Medicaid. State leaders like Sen. Tom O’Mara can’t or won’t fix this this only-in-New-York tax, so counties will have to choose between throwing residents off the rolls or raising property taxes.

The facts are indisputable. 41,606 residents of our Senate district face losing their insurance if the ACA is repealed. Repeal will cost counties $600 million in direct aid. This means higher taxes and more uninsured families.

We must come together to stop the train wreck of Congressman Reed’s blind drive to repeal the ACA. Call Congressman Reed at his local office and tell him to fix the problems, not bring back old ones. Contact Senator O’Mara and your state assemblyperson to ask how they’ll pay for Reed’s gift to insurance companies. If they can’t answer, assume they’re kicking the bill down to county taxes, and call your county legislators.


NYS Senate Candidate,

Leslie Danks Burke

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