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New York's Attorney General Vows Court Action Against ACA Repeal

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

New York’s top elected Democrats rallied against the Republican Congress’s proposals to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying they will take legal action, if necessary, to stop it.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, speaking before a crowd of unionized health care workers at Mount Sinai hospital, says if the plans to repeal and replace Obamacare in the GOP led Senate and House do become law, he will sue on behalf of New Yorkers.

“I’ve developed a bit of a reputation since January as the guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government,” Schneiderman said, to cheers.  “Always on the merits, and boy, have we got a lot of merits on our side.”

This is not the first time that Schneiderman has made the threat. The Attorney General said after the house passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement that court action was likely.

The AG says provisions in both the Senate and House plans to defund Planned Parenthood services, “would create an undue burden” on women’s constitutional right to reproductive health care, including the right to choose abortion. He says restrictions on federal dollars to fund breast cancer screenings, and STD tests, among other things, are also unconstitutional. And, he says the Faso-Collins amendment, named for two New York GOP congressmen, would unconstitutionally “meddle”, in New York’s Medicaid funding system.

Credit Gov. Cuomo's flickr page
Gov. Cuomo, AG Eric Schneiderman, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie greet each other at a rally Monday.

Governor Cuomo, who also spoke, called the Faso- Collins amendment “an old fashioned con game”. Congressmen Chris Collins of Western New York and John Faso of the Hudson Valley sought the provision, in exchange for their support of the ACA repeal. It would end $2.3 billion of annual federal aid to counties to pay for Medicaid, and instead require that the state of New York, fund the programs instead.

Faso and Collins, these are the guys who used to on the corner with the card game,” Cuomo said.  

The Congressmen have said that their amendment reduces New York’s highest in the nation property taxes, which are collected by counties in part to fund the government health care program.

Cuomo started a fund to try to defeat Collins, Faso and several other GOP congressmen and women in the 2018 elections. According to the New York Daily News, the governor has already raised around a million dollars.

In addition to the reductions under the Faso-Collins amendment, both the Senate and House plans would greatly slow the growth of Medicaid spending, and would defund Medicaid expansion programs that New York added under Obamacare. The cuts would leave a multi billion dollar hole in the state budget, and affect New Yorkers who depend on the government to help with their health care. AG Schneiderman says two  thirds of New York’s  nursing home patients, and the half of the state’s disabled people who rely on Medicaid would be “devastated” by the changes.

Two million New Yorkers could lose their health care altogether.

The rally was organized in anticipation of an expected vote in Senate this week on the health care plan. But the Senate vote is delayed, due to the illness of Senator John McCain, who had an operation to remove a blood clot above his eye. McCain will be spending the next two weeks, at least, recovering at home in Arizona. When he returns he is likely to provide a key yes vote to pass the repeal and replacement plan.

If Republican Senators are successful, they would still need to reconcile their bill with the House version, and then President Trump would have to sign it into law.

Credit Gov. Cuomo's flickr page
Gov. Cuomo addresses the crowd gathered at Mount Sinai Hospital downstate.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at