Congressman Lee Zeldin Responds to Governor Cuomo’s Statement About the ACA and Health Care in New York

January 4, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC - Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) released the following statement in response to a press release sent out today by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo regarding the Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, and health care in New York.

“The Governor's press release fails to state absolutely any acknowledgment whatsoever that the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is flawed. Nothing at all is included about any of the lost doctors, cancelled policies, higher premiums or higher deductibles that New Yorkers are now facing. 

There is no acknowledgment whatsoever that New York's Health Exchange had just one co-op, Health Republic of New York, that collapsed, because the state picked an entity to run it, the Freelancers Union, which had no idea how to create a health care plan so they rented a health plan’s network. They didn't know how to sell the policies so they marked them down and when they realized that their math didn't add up and went to New York State regulators asking for permission to raise their rates, New York told them to make it work, which resulted in (just in time for the 2015 holiday season) a collapse that left over 200,000 New Yorkers without health insurance and providers on the hook with six, seven and eight figures worth of money still owed to them. Many of those impacted New Yorkers who switched policies received the 2016 version of this disaster of a holiday gift repeat as they were notified that their providers were no longer going to honor their new policies.

There is no acknowledgment whatsoever of the cost of the Governor's debacle trying to convert New Yorkers to Managed Long Term Care. In 2011, when a Wall Street Journal article revealed that the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) was investigating Visiting Nurse Services (VNS) for overbilling New York taxpayers by $224 million in illegal Medicaid claims in 2004-2005, the Governor actually fired the Inspector General at OMIG of all people, while also choosing to promote the CEO of VNS, Carol Raphael, to become his new co-chair of his new Medicaid Redesign Team. Then, with the assumption that all for-profits are evil without exception and all not for profits are doing heroic work without exception, the Medicaid Redesign Team started pushing New Yorkers into Managed Long Term Care and only offered medallions for these services to not for profits. Then, when the New York Times exposed the abuse of this new cronyism as VNS was targeting and signing up healthy people in order to milk the system, the Governor didn't just suspend VNS to cover himself, he suspended the entire signup system so that when the suspension was lifted, VNS would still have enough healthy people left to sign up to game the system, albeit more discreetly. 

New York State spends more money on Medicaid than Illinois, Texas and Florida combined. New York has the same population as Florida, but spends more money on Medicaid costs than Florida spends on its entire state budget.

If Governor Cuomo's New Year's Resolution is to start caring more about health care costs, efficiency, and oversight, then he should hunker down in Albany with his budget wizards, and he actually has some extremely talented people like Robert Mujica, to clean this mess, because health care costs in New York are way beyond out of control. He may have his private political contracts with 1199 SEIU to protect him politically, but he wasn't elected Governor of New York to preserve his own political career at any cost even if that means selling out the rest of New York State to cut special deals with his buddies at 1199.

Obamacare is going to be repealed and replaced. If Governor Cuomo has a good idea that productively contributes to the future of health care then I'm totally open to listening. In the meantime, he is not part of the solution by conspiring with allies to cook up half baked numbers to scare people about a particular course of action that is divorced from reality. Health care in America must work better and become more affordable, relieving taxpayers of the financial burdens under this failed policy, and give patients more choices, while still continuing to cover Americans with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parent's policy. This is an ongoing process and I am willing to work with anyone on either side of the aisle to strike an appropriate balance not only for Long Island and New York, but for all Americans. 

In the meantime, Governor Cuomo needs to dedicate way more of his time getting his own house in order, because it's a house of cards right now that is filling Albany's swamp rather than draining it."