ALBANY – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is continuing his criticism of Republican Lawmakers’ effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act with their own health care plan called the American Health Care Act.
The governor wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in the New York Daily News on Tuesday, in which he blasted the Senate for proposing cuts to Medicaid at a time when the U.S. is dealing with the biggest drug epidemic in the nation’s history.
The governor said that while states like New York continue to fight against the opioid epidemic, the health care legislation being advanced in the Senate would strip Medicaid funding used for drug treatment services that save lives and keep families intact.
In New York, federal, state and local Medicaid funding makes up two-thirds of the state’s yearly budget for substance use programs — nearly $800 million of a total $1.2 billion. The governor said those funds allowed the state to treat 234,000 people for substance use in 2016 alone.
Gov. Cuomo said Cutting Medicaid would devastate New York’s ability to treat those who need help battling an opioid addiction, through treatment, crisis, detox and counseling services.
“The Senate legislation in its current form would phase out federal funds that are used to expand eligibility for Medicaid and slash billions of dollars from Medicaid, ” The governor said. The bill would eliminate $772 billion from Medicaid over 10 years nationwide.
“While the Republican health care bill includes $2 billion for opioid treatment, and may add as much as $45 billion over 10 years, this funding is nowhere near enough,” the Governor said. “Money for opioid treatment alone, without Medicaid expansion, can only address the tip of the iceberg of this epidemic. Many rely on Medicaid coverage in order to access treatment at all — so access to these programs would be dramatically reduced. In our state, this is unacceptable.”
Drugs are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, resulting in the first decline in American life expectancy since 1993. Deaths resulting from drug overdose increased 20 percent between 2014 and 2015 to more than 2,300 in one year in New York — more than twice the number of motor vehicle fatalities.
The U.S. Senate is expected to act on its version of the GOP health care bill next week. The House already approved its version earlier this year. If the Senate has enough votes to move its bill forward, the two legislative bodies will have to reconcile the differences in each version before final passage and moving it onto the president’s desk for his signature.