WASHINGTON, DC – Chautauqua County’s current representative in Congress released a statement yesterday following the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) spoke in favor of the decision, saying the region has already been leading the way on health reform with the development of electronic medical records and the formation of comprehensive care organizations. He said the new law gives Western New York the tools it needs to go farther and it gives the rest of the country the opportunity to follow our lead.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Higgins said this year over 3 million New Yorkers have begun receiving free preventative care, over 3,000 New Yorkers with pre-existing conditions are no longer denied health insurance coverage, 160,000 young adults in New York State are now receiving health coverage through their parents’ plan, and 254,000 New York State seniors on Medicare are saving an average of $655 on their prescription medications.
As expected, the two men competing to be Chautauqua County’s next representative in Congress have mixed views of the court’s decision.
Congressman Tom Reed, who currently represents the state’s 29th congressional district but is running for re-election in the newly drawn 23rd district – said he is very troubled by the ramifications of the decision, saying it greatly expands the government’s ability to tax and interfere in people’s lives. He also said that it is bad news for patients, taxpayers and the economy, adding that businesses fear anticipated cost increases associated with health insurance when the law is fully implemented next year.
As a result, Reed said Congress needs to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act and focus instead on patient-centered reforms such as requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions, allowing children up to age 26 to be carried on a parent’s policy, and covering preventive health care services like mammograms for women.
Reed’s democratic opponent in the race – Ithaca’s Nate Shinagawa, said the ruling is good news for working and middle class families in the Southern Tier. He said that it is now time to move forward and focus on jobs and our economy. He also criticized congressman Reed, saying that his call for repealing the law shows he is more concerned with obstructing progress than building up the economy and helping a struggling middle class. Shinagawa added that the next step in reform is to get profits out of healthcare.
Shinagawa holds a Master of Health Administration from Cornell University and is the Administrative Director of Support Services and Purchasing for Guthrie Healthcare System.