New York: Governor and Attorney General To Sue Should GOP Health Bill Become Law

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Cuomo, right, and Schneiderman. File photo-Flickr

New York State will challenge the Republican healthcare bill's constitutionality in court should it become law, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman have announced.

The two made the announcement at an event at Mount Sinai Hospital, encouraging members of New York's Congressional delegation to stand against the bill. Should it pass and be signed into law, New York will challenge the Republican health care bill in court on the basis of several constitutional defects, including the placement of unconstitutional conditions on federal dollars used for health care, the governor and attorney general said.

"The Senate health care bill is an assault on New Yorkers that would decimate hospitals and devastate healthcare access," Cuomo said. "Token changes cannot hide the fact that this is a cruel and heartless bill. New Yorkers are not easily fooled, and, if this harmful plan passes, we're going to stand up as New Yorkers and sue the federal government. My first priority is always the health and safety of the residents of this great state and we will not allow Washington to take health care from our people."

"This bill isn't simply unconscionable and unjust - it's unconstitutional. That's why I've made clear: if this bill ever becomes law, I will challenge it in court, to protect the millions of New Yorkers whose health care is at stake," Schneiderman said. "This bill's attacks on Planned Parenthood would create an undue burden on women's fundamental constitutional right to reproductive health care, while placing unconstitutional conditions on federal dollars that fund vital services like breast cancer screenings, STD tests, and more. Meanwhile, the Faso-Collins amendment represents a cynical ploy to meddle in New York's Medicaid funding system, requiring massive state tax increases to offset billions in lost federal funds. We won't stand for it. And we will sue - because this is about New Yorkers' health, their lives, and their basic rights."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio backs the proposed legal challenge should the bill be signed into law. "The Senate's proposed tax cut for millionaires poorly disguised as a health care bill is a disaster for New Yorkers," de Blasio said. "Hundreds of thousands would lose health coverage and the pressure on our public hospitals and first responders would be enormous. It will send us back to a time when New Yorkers were forced to choose between the care they need and feeding their families. That's why we are organizing to stop this bill. I applaud Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman for vowing to take this critical step if this bill becomes a reality."

The bill delivers tax cuts to insurance companies, medical device companies and high-income people while jeopardizing health care coverage for millions of middle class New Yorkers, exacerbating the opioid epidemic ravaging the country and driving up costs for people with preexisting conditions.

If passed, it would cut billions of dollars from New York's Medicaid program and includes a proposal by two members of New York's own congressional delegation, Representatives John Faso and Chris Collins, that seeks to eliminate $2.3 billion dollars in payments, forcing all New Yorkers to pay a "Faso-Collins Federal Tax." Governor Cuomo has denounced the two as "reckless."

New York has taken aggressive action to protect New Yorkers' access to quality, affordable health care, mandating that insurance companies cannot discriminate against New Yorkers with preexisting conditions or based on age or gender; mandating that insurance policies cover all 10 essential benefits laid out in the Affordable Care Act; and banning all insurers who withdraw from offering Qualified Health Plans on the State Health Marketplace from future participation in the marketplace.

This also follows a number of steps Schneiderman has taken to protect women's reproductive rights, including issuing a formal legal opinion to cement the fact that New York State's criminal law does not interfere with the reproductive health rights ensured by Roe v. Wadeand later cases; investigation of New York health plans' adherence to federal no-cost sharing requirements for contraceptives, and introducing the New York Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act to protect cost-free access to birth control; and filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn  a Texas law imposing unnecessary and burdensome requirements on abortion clinics with the purpose and effect of closing many of them.


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