2017-03-15 / Political Page

Writing New Health Bill, A Tough Task For GOP


WRITING NEW HEALTH BILL, A TOUGH TASK FOR GOP: There was a time when Republican Party leaders were chomping at the bit, waiting for the chance to have then-President Barack Obama out of the way so they could have a chance to get rid of The Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” – his signature healthcare legislation. Well, Republicans got the chance as Obama’s presidency ended and the GOP was handed control of the White House, US Senate and House of Representatives – time to feast!

Now, however, as they started writing bills that impact the lives of tens of millions of Americans, rich and poor, the realization is sinking in regarding the huge task they face and how many hurdles they have to cross to get the job done. There are indications that the Republicans may not have the votes to pass a new health law because there are always pockets of resistance here and there from Republican lawmakers, and they surely can’t depend on many Democrats to provide “yes” votes.

President Trump can be depended upon to support such important legislation because it will play a major role in judging his long range performance as a national leader. He signed off on a couple of bills last week, praising the legislation, although they were criticized by doctors and hospital officials because it would cause a decline in coverage and potentially harm vulnerable patient populations, said AMA Chief Executive, Dr. James L. Madara. The AARP is also against it.

Generally, it is estimated that from early estimates of Republican legislation being approved, enrollment may be reduced in the individual market by two to four million people. In the “Medicaid” market, however, some officials see a fall off of four to six million.

Much is riding on the kind of legislation that the Republicans can pass in the long run. This issue will have a major impact on how voters perceive the outcome when the 2018 elections are held.

OFFICIALS BLAST TRUMP’S NEW MUSLIM BAN: House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley released the following statement after President Trump signed another travel ban, designed to unilaterally restrict travelers and refugees from select predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States.

“This new executive order from President Trump is merely a retread of the despicable and  un-American Muslim ban that the Trump administration had already proposed – a ban that was quickly shot down by courts throughout the country. While the administration cleaned up the executive order’s language, the intent is still clear: to block immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US.”

Crowley said there is “no doubt about it, a religious litmus test goes against everything we stand for as Americans. Furthermore, this ban threatens the security of our diplomats and service members abroad. Instead of putting forward a comprehensive plan to address our national security risks, the Trump administration is instead enacting hateful measures that will put Americans at risk.”

State Senator Jose Peralta stated, “This revised executive order banning travel from six predominantly Muslim nations is just as un-American as President Trump’s previous attempt to single out migrants based upon their national origin. The White House clearly ignored the nation’s outrage generated by a similar ban issued last month. Vetting people on the basis of their place of birth or their religious background is inhumane, and against the very core of what we stand for, as Americans. It is appalling that discriminatory actions such as this take place in our nation, one that was built by immigrants from all backgrounds. This ban breaks families apart, keeps talent from coming into our country, and interrupts students from completing their degrees. I believe this will do nothing to help protect our national security, and I will continue to fight this policy. I am hopeful that the federal courts will again strike down this unconscionable attack on immigrants, as I am certain that lawsuits will follow in the next few days.”

Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), issued the following statement after President Trump released “the newest iteration of his Muslim and refugee ban:”

“The new executive order is anything but (new). This repackaging of the original executive order is still clearly an unconstitutional and hateful action meant to ban Muslim and refugees from coming to our shores. Such hateful acts not only undermine our values and democracy, but also threaten American security at home and abroad. 

“I will continue to fight this ban. Our country is one of immigrants, and that diversity makes our nation strong. We cannot be silent when American values are under assault.”

PERALTA’S BILL TACKLES SPEEDING IN SCHOOL ZONES: State Senator Jose Peralta’s legislation aimed at cracking down on drivers who speed in school zones passed the New York State Senate on Mar 6. Under the bill, drivers convicted of two or more speeding violations in school zones during school hours, over an 18-month period will have their licenses suspended for 60 days. This is the first time the bill has moved from the Senate’s Transportation Committee.

Senator Peralta introduced the bill (S.336B) in an effort to protect schoolchildren and surrounding communities, holding reckless and negligent motorists who speed responsible for their actions. In 2015, according to New York City’s Department of Transportation, more than 1000 children under the age of 17 were injured in traffic crashes. Nine children were killed, and more than 200 were injured.

“Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of injury-related death for children between the ages of 5 and 14,” said Peralta. “The safety of our children is a top priority for me, and this bill is one more tool to protect them. This is all about saving lives and making our street safer for all of us.”

The school speeding zone legislation will place penalties in line with the current construction and work zone rules, in which drivers lose their licenses for 60 days if convicted of two or more speeding tickets in these areas. “The same way we protect the construction workers on our highways, we must also ensure that we protect the State’s schoolchildren” Peralta stated.

In 2013, a study revealed that at least three in every four motorists exceeded the speed limit within a quarter of a mile of 100 schools surveyed by the City’s Department of Transportation.

Senator Peralta hopes the New York State Assembly will now move to pass his proposal; Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) is sponsoring the legislation in that chamber. “I want to thank my friend and colleague Assembly Member Glick for sponsoring the bill. We are working together, along with Transportation Alternatives and other advocates, to protect the more than one million school kids who travel to and from school every day,” said Peralta. “I also want to thank my colleagues in the Senate for passing this commonsense legislation.”

SCHUMER ON PASSING OF HELEN MARSHALL: US Senate Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer issued the following statement on the death of Helen Marshall:

“Helen Marshall – the Queen of Queens – will be remembered as a trailblazer who dedicated her life to public service through her work as an educator, community activist and elected official. I was fortunate enough to know Helen Marshall, to work with her, to be inspired by her and to witness her fervor for public schools, public libraries, and the children of our community. The Borough of Queens, and New York City as a whole, is a better place because of Helen Marshall’s leadership. She will be sorely missed.”

QUEENS COUNTY GOP CHARGES OBAMACARE IS FLAWED; SUPPORTS AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT: The Queens County Republican State Committee, issued the following statement on Mar. 8 in support of President Trump’s American Health Care Act.

The American Health Care Act is the first step in a process to correct a bad piece of legislation. It will lower health care costs, improve efficiency and oversight. Quality health care in America is an ongoing process, and members of Congress should work across the aisle to find an appropriate balance, not only for Queens and New York, but also for all Americans.

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is flawed, and is being repealed and replaced. Under Obamacare, New Yorkers are losing their doctors, facing cancelled policies, higher premiums and/or higher deductibles. Obamacare mandates limit how individuals can choose, spend and save their health care dollars.

Health care in America is not one-policy-fits-all; it must work better and become more affordable. The American Health Care Act will relieve taxpayers of the financial burdens under the failed Obamacare policy. The act will also give patients more choices, continue to cover Americans with pre-existing conditions and allow young adults to stay on their parent’s policy.

MALONEY ON HOUSE REPUBLICAN’S HEALTH CARE PLAN: Following the release of the House Republican’s health care plan, Congress Member Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), released the following statement:

“The Affordable Care Act replacement plan released by House Republicans is a nightmare for New Yorkers. Under this GOP plan, families will have to pay more for worse health coverage, costs will go up for the middle class, millions of people will lose health insurance, seniors who depend on Medicare and Medicaid will see their benefits cut and Planned Parenthood will be defunded. New York City’s hospitals will be hit especially hard with the dramatic loss of federal Medicaid funding under this bill, threatening patients – especially low-income patients – access to health care services. This plan breaks President Trump’s promise to provide health care for everyone and hits the middle class and working families the hardest. This is a health care plan that New York and our country cannot afford, and I will work as hard as I can to defeat it and protect Americans’ care.”

DROMM, JACKSON HEIGHTS DEMS HOLD #CLOSERIKERS CAMPAIGN MEETING: In 2015, Council Member Daniel Dromm made history as one of the first public officials to call for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex, sparking the formation of the #CLOSErikers campaign. Dromm and New Visions Democrats hosted CLOSErikers representatives and the New York Civil Liberties Union to speak about Rikers Islands’ culture of corruption and the coordinated mass effort to close it down, at a meeting last Thursday, at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, 37-06 77th Street in Jackson Heights.

According to Dromm (D–Jackson Heights), over two million people are currently incarcerated in the United States. That includes 25% of the world’s population of incarcerated individuals. Our criminal justice system—from stop and frisk to incarceration—has targeted poor communities of color, especially young black men. This is a direct result of the “War on Drugs,” which led to an explosion in our prison population over the last 30 years. But the damage doesn’t end there. Those released from prison suffer continued punishment as they find themselves barred from voting and jury service, limited in housing and employment opportunities, or facing draconian immigration consequences, not to mention the immense social stigma of former incarceration.

The battle against this grave injustice isn’t being fought in far-away places, said Dromm. It’s happening right here in the campaign to close Rikers Island, the “notorious” jail complex in New York City. With its “deep-seated culture of violence,” in the words of US Attorney Preet Bharara, Rikers Island has wreaked havoc on the lives of those incarcerated there and their families. Over 77,000 New Yorkers cycle in and out of Rikers each year, and 89% of its detainees are African American or Latino. Approximately 80% of Rikers detainees are simply awaiting their day in court, not yet convicted of a crime but too poor to afford bail, trapped in an endless cycle of unjust court delays. Even when released from Rikers, the damage can be permanent. The tragic story of Kalief Browder will never be forgotten. Closing Rikers Island is an urgent goal, and when achieved, it will place New York City at the forefront of the movement to end mass incarceration, Dromm concluded.

MALONEY LEADS REQUEST FOR REIMBURSEMENT TO CITY FOR TRUMP PROTECTION: Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney (Queens/Manhattan) Daniel M. Donovan Jr. (R–NY–11), led a bipartisan group of 14 other members of the New York Delegation in their formal request on Mar. 9 that the City of New York be fully reimbursed for costs incurred to protect then President-elect Donald Trump and his family between Election Day and Inauguration Day.

In their letter to House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen; Ranking Member Nita Lowey; Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science Chairman John Culberson; and Ranking Member José E. Serrano, the members highlight that “[t]he scale of the security needs to secure Trump Tower in the heart of Midtown Manhattan is unprecedented, and the NYPD has done an outstanding job, in cooperation with the Secret Service, of devoting the personnel and resources necessary to protect and properly secure the area.” 

The members went on to explain, “other localities have been able to recover costs associated with protecting Presidents-elect,” and that they “are also concerned with covering the costs for security for President Trump and his family in the future.”

The 16 representatives request that “[i]n addition to providing the full $25.7 million in reimbursement to New York City…that sufficient funding is designated and available for future costs associated with President Trump’s protection in New York City.” Maloney’s letter follows:

Dear Chairman Frelinghuysen, Ranking Member Lowey, Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Serrano:

We write to express strong support for fully reimbursing the City of New York for costs incurred to protect then President-elect Donald Trump and his family between Election Day and Inauguration Day. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has calculated and shared with Congress that the exact cost associated with Mr. Trump’s protection during this time period was $25.7 million (letter attached). As you know, the Continuing Resolution passed on December 9, 2016 included $7 million for city reimbursement. We strongly urge you to include the outstanding amount of the total in the next funding bill for the remainder of FY2017.

The $25.7 million to secure Trump Tower and the first family includes $24 million spent by the NYPD and $1.7 million spent by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY). The amount was calculated after thorough review of payroll and overtime records and more than 25,000 service logs.

The scale of the security needs to secure Trump Tower in the heart of Midtown Manhattan is unprecedented, and the NYPD has done an outstanding job, in cooperation with the Secret Service, of devoting the personnel and resources necessary to protect and properly secure the area. We understand that other localities have been able to recover costs associated with protecting presidents-elect. For example, the city of Chicago was reimbursed for the costs of protecting president-elect Obama by the Department of Justice, as was Kennebunkport, ME for the protection of President George H.W. Bush. And Washington, DC is routinely reimbursed for some security costs associated with the inauguration. Based on this past precedent, we believe it is only fair that New York City be fully compensated for providing security for [then-] President-elect Trump and the future first family. New York City should not have to wait any longer for the reimbursement it is due.        

We are also concerned with covering the costs for security for President Trump and his family in the future. The prominence of Trump Tower requires protection operations there 24 hours a day, regardless of where the president is. New York City has provided estimates of the costs for security in and around Trump Tower for the days following January 20, 2017, when President Trump took office and going forward. Even after Inauguration Day, there are still significant security costs for which the federal government should be responsible. For every day President Trump is in New York City, it costs the NYPD $308,000. When President Trump is not in New York City, it costs the NYPD up to $146,000 per day. The FDNY estimates that its security costs will total $4.5 million per year. This data shows the need for a reliable source of federal funding for New York City throughout President Trump’s time in office.

In addition to providing the full $25.7 million in reimbursement to New York City, we ask that you ensure that sufficient funding is designated and available for future costs associated with President Trump’s protection in New York City. There should be no uncertainty that the federal government will cover these national security costs.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter, and we look forward to working with you to resolve this critical issue.

Among those signing-off on the letter were Congress Members Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Joseph Crowley (NY-14), Grace Meng (NY-6), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8), Gregory Meeks (NY-5), Tom Suozzi (NY-3) and Nydia Velázquez (NY-7).

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