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NY-24 Democratic Candidate Dana Balter Brings Healthcare to the Forefront of Campaign

John Smith/WAER News

Democratic Congressional Candidate Dana Balter continues to make health care an issue in her race against Republican Congressman John Katko.

On Wednesday she pointed out what is at stake if the Affordable Care Act continues to be dismantled, something for which she is blaming both Katko and the Trump administration.

“Marketplace tax credits and coverage for 10 million people...gone,” Balter said. “Medicaid expansion currently covering 12 million people...gone.  Allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until the age of 26...gone. Ban on discrimination against women... gone.”

While such provisions are not dead yet, she notes Katko’s support for the GOP tax plan helped threaten such coverage.  Balter was joined by Dr. Sunny Aslam, who has worked in community health clinics, and seen where medical conditions are worsened by a lack of coverage.

“Somebody dropped out of treatment, somebody’s medications couldn’t be filled because the insurance company denied their medications,” Aslam said. “But now, thankfully, what happened was the Affordable Care Act helped with much of that. A lot of the free clinics lost their clientele with the Affordable Care Act because people were able to get Medicaid.”

He is worried that such patients will lose coverage – especially for pre-existing conditions – and be driven back to free-clinics.  Balter is also concerned about people being denied treatment under a majority Republican Congress.

“People with preexisting conditions include people with devastating illnesses like cancer and diabetes,” Balter said. “But they are also people with acne, or asthma, or high blood pressure.”

As heard in his advertisements, Katko is also campaigning on the issue, as a proponent of reform.

“Now John Katko is leading bipartisan efforts to stabilize health insurance markets, and lower costs for families, ensuring more New Yorkers have access to the healthcare they need.”

He voted against a full repeal of Obama-care, but supported the tax plan.  Balter further worries about people with addiction problems, if health care coverage is rolled back.

“There isn’t nearly enough funding. We don’t have enough resources devoted to treatment,” Balter said. “One of the problems with John Katko’s approach to dealing with the opioid crisis is that he treats it as a criminal problem. It is a medical problem. This is an illness, and we have to treat it as such. If we are going to solve this problem, we have to make sure that evry single person who has opioid use disorder has access to the medical care they need.”

She says she hears concerns about health care everywhere she goes.  People are worried about increasing premiums and drug prices – or losing coverage altogether. 

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.