ITHACA, N.Y. — Tompkins County legislators unanimously supported a resolution Tuesday opposing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without an alternative.
Legislative chambers were filled Tuesday for the vote. In support of the resolution, members of the public shared emotional anecdotes, spoke about the effect a repeal would have on senior citizens, people with mental health issues. Speakers also stressed the financial impact a repeal would have on local health facilities like Cayuga Medical Center and Planned Parenthood, and especially on county taxpayers.
Roughly 8,000 Tompkins County residents will be at risk if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, the resolution states.
The resolution passed Tuesday calls on Tompkins County’s representatives in Washington to vote against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act “unless and until” it is replaced by another nationwide alternative with protections for the public commensurate with the goals of the ACA or a single-payer health insurance program.
Several members of the public spoke in favor of New York adopting single-payer health care or “Medicare for all.” Tompkins County Legislature has supported single-payer health care with a resolution in the past.
The resolution was directed at Congressman Tom Reed and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. Reed has supported repealing the Affordable Care Act for years. Carol Chock, D-Ithaca, also asked that the resolution be sent to every municipality in Reed’s district.
According to the resolution, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act will cut federal reimbursement for Tompkins County’s Medicaid expenditures by over $1 million.
Speaking as a local resident, Leslie Danks Burke said: “Repealing the Affordable Care Act is going to raise all of our property taxes and we can’t afford it.”
Last week, Ithaca Common Council voted on a similar resolution opposing a repeal. Common Council’s vote was also unanimous.
Legislator Martha Robertson, D-Dryden, said everyone has better health care as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
“We are all benefiting. Everybody’s health insurance in this country is different,” Robertson said. “Whether you get your insurance through Medicare or you get it through your employer or your spouse’s employer or on one of the exchanges or Medicaid, we all have different and far better provisions.”
The resolution states that many features of the ACA — such as prohibiting lifetime benefit caps, prohibiting gender discrimination, provision of care regardless of pre-existing conditions and provision of benefits for children up to age 26 on their parents’ policies — benefit all Americans.
Mike Sigler, R-Lansing, supported the resolution Tuesday, saying there is “no doubt” the Affordable Care Act has helped a lot of people, such as people with pre-existing conditions. However, he said he has concerns about the ACA’s economic sustainability. Sigler said insurance companies have been posting losses and federal subsidies are going to expire.
“I don’t know how we’re going to make up that money to sustain it,” Sigler said. “And that is something we have to take a hard look at because if you love the ACA you’ve gotta start looking at that.”
Sigler said small business owners don’t know how to pay for insurance. Sigler said he hears from people who have deductibles that are $2,000 or $5,000.
“So they have health insurance, but they don’t have health care,” Sigler said.
Legislature chair Mike Lane said he has been in favor of health care reform for as long as he can remember, and said he has too many examples of people who have gone bankrupt or lost their homes because they got sick.
Lane said while the Affordable Care Act is not perfect, it’s a start. Lane said he would like to see more long-term care for elderly “who we continue to humiliate and impoverish when they need long-term care.”
Lane said the Affordable Care Act needs to be modified and repaired, but it shouldn’t be done away with.
Read the full resolution:
Featured image by Kelsey O’Connor/Ithaca Voice.