The push to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) could be very bad news for a number of Brooklyn hospitals.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday, March 22 that the state Department of Health had determined that four local healthcare centers, Coney Island Hospital, Beth Israel Hospital System, Staten Island University Hospital and Richmond University Hospital — all located in Republican Congressmember Dan Donovan’s 11th Congressional District — would lose more than $37 million in funding if the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the ACA repeal and “replacement” effort, is passed in its current form.
The massive cuts in funding, Cuomo said, underscore the impact that the combination of the Chris Collins/John Faso Amendment and Paul Ryan’s original health care replacement plan will have on New Yorkers. The amendment, the governor stressed, would ban federal reimbursement for state Medicaid funds for local governments outside of New York City, cutting Medicaid for these local governments by $2.3 billion.
“The radical conservative ideology in Washington has declared war on New York with legislation that will devastate hospitals across the state and hurt New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “These massive cuts will cripple our hospitals and ravage the health care services on which New Yorkers rely, with $37.4 million in cuts to hospitals in the 11th District alone.” In total, Staten Island and Brooklyn hospitals stand to lose upwards of $77 million through the legislation, according to Donovan.
While making clear his commitment to repealing the ACA and “replacing Obamacare with a plan that truly works for the people,” Donovan, on Tuesday, March 22, confirmed that he would not vote for the version of repeal and replace that is currently on the table, writing in an op-ed in the Staten Island Advance, “I do not believe the legislation as currently written is in the best interest of the 740,000 people I represent in Congress, and I believe we can do better,” and later noting, “recognizing that the status quo is failing isn’t, on its own, a compelling reason to vote ‘yes’ on the current replacement plan.”
That is a change for the GOP pol, who represents all of Staten Island and a swath of southern Brooklyn including Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, and who has drawn criticism from constituents for the past couple of months — and as recently as this past Monday — that he has failed to make clear his stance on the issue.
“Just before I came here, it was announced that the House Republicans will be voting on the [ACA] replacement this coming Thursday on the floor of the house, just three days from now, and I have no idea where the Congressman stands,” said local resident and Community Board 10 board member Jonathan Yedin in the public session of the panel’s March full board meeting, held on Monday, March 20.
“Six weeks ago I put in a request to meet with his office,” he continued. “I followed up once a week or so, and the only response that I got was that, obviously, he’s out of the district and he’s in D.C. and therefore his time up north here in the district is limited, which I understand. I totally do.
“[His constituents] have been given no specifics in regards to his position except for that he’s reviewing the bill . . . he’s thinking about it, and he’s talking to folks. That’s unacceptable,” he said. “This piece of legislation is so important, whether you’re for or against it. I think that we as constituents deserve to know where he stands.”
A Vimeo video released over the weekend before the impending vote, created by local grassroots group Fight Back Bay Ridge, also questioned the congressmember’s stance, while urging the rep to consider keeping the ACA in place.
One of the project’s organizers, Rebecca Goldberg, told this paper that the video “was inspired by [one,] our meeting with [Donovan] in his office last month [and two,] his consistent refusal to host a town hall where these issues can be discussed with the larger community.”
In addition, on the day of the planned vote – and the seventh anniversary of Obamacare – constituents from both sides of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge had planned to descend upon Donovan’s Staten Island district office as part of what organizers were calling a “Trumpcare mock funeral procession protest.”
With word that Donovan intends to vote no on the AHCA, however, organizers say that the funeral procession has been cancelled, but that “activists will still be there celebrating Obamacare’s seventh anniversary and thanking Donovan for pledging to vote against the current Trumpcare bill.”