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Rep. Zeldin Slams Gov. Cuomo for Playing Games, Shamefully Lying and Trying to Threaten and Scare Public into Opposing Collins-Faso Amendment and American Health Care Act

March 22, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1) released the following statement today after Governor Andrew Cuomo released several press statements riddled with lies regarding the impacts of the Collins-Faso Amendment and American Health Care Act on hospitals in congressional districts around New York with Republican Members of Congress:
 
“It's quite disappointing that Governor Cuomo has resorted to these disgusting and willfully untruthful tactics. The Collins-Faso amendment doesn't even include any cuts to hospitals whatsoever. The amendment is a proposal to shift to the state the local share of Medicaid from the counties outside of New York City, including Suffolk County. It does not propose a $2.3 billion cut. Governor Cuomo is choosing on his own to react to the amendment, by threatening a cut to scare people. Let’s call this for exactly what it is.
 
Furthermore, Governor Cuomo is completely lying about the Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payment cut after I specifically explained this to him in detail on a 30 minute one on one phone call yesterday. The DSH cuts are part of federal law under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If Congress does absolutely nothing, hospitals would still receive those DSH cuts, not because of the American Health Care Act, but because those cuts are already part of federal law under the ACA. It’s also crazy that he would be using the tactics in this press release when he has short changed these hospitals out of so much more money owed to them throughout the years.
 
Governor Cuomo's own father knew that the Collins-Faso amendment should be implemented in New York State when he proposed it 23 years ago while Mario Cuomo was Governor (https://www.nytimes.com/1994/02/18/opinion/mr-cuomo-s-medicaid-cure.html). Does the Governor believe that Mario Cuomo was a "radical conservative" as Governor as well? Of course not.
 
Between the Governor's scams associated with his conversion to managed long term care in New York, his private contracts with 1199 SEIU, his failed Health Republic experiment, and his mishandling of Medicaid issues related to Visiting Nurse Services, he really should be looking in the mirror and deciding whether his $60 billion a year Medicaid budget has $2.3 billion in efficiencies to be pursued that he knows wouldn’t hurt any low income New Yorkers. If he needs any advice on how to get there, I'd be happy to help point him in the right direction. These scare tactics and lies about the Collins-Faso amendment are shameful and disgusting. It is like he has checked out on doing the tough work as Governor to make New York State operate like a well-oiled machine again. 
 
Our county governments around the state desperately need this mandate relief. This amendment to the American Health Care Act is the single greatest act of fiscal relief ever provided to the County of Suffolk and its taxpayers. This legislation single handily flips Suffolk County's recurring massive nine figure budget deficits into budget surpluses. Taxpayers in Suffolk County are hitting the jackpot of mandate relief as a result of this proposal. For the County, and most importantly, Suffolk County residents, this is a dream scenario that lifts our county out of a very dire annual budget crisis. According to the Suffolk County Comptroller’s Office, this would save Suffolk County $4.6 million per week. New York State absolutely can and should identify and achieve the $2.3 billion amount of efficiency necessary and available in the state Medicaid system and make it clear that this can be achieved without harming any low income New Yorkers in need of coverage. If the state needs any ideas, I stand more than happy to assist.
 
The Governor's statements and press releases always fail to state absolutely any acknowledgment whatsoever that the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is flawed. Nothing at all is ever included about any of the lost doctors, cancelled policies, higher premiums or higher deductibles that New Yorkers are now facing. 
 
There is never any 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 never any 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.
 
As I have stated previously, the Governor really 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.”