Manhattan Congresswoman Warns GOP Repeal of Obamacare Will Hurt Seniors

Feb 17, 2017
In The News

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney speaks at the Stein Senior Center in Manhattan. Madina Toure/Observer

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney told elderly constituents at the Stein Senior Center in Manhattan this morning that President Donald Trump and Republican politicians;  plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act will raise drug costs and cut their healthcare benefits.

Yesterday, House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican officials shared their proposal to replace ACA, which they plan to introduce following the recess. That plan centers on using tax credits to fund insurance purchases and slashing federal funding for states that grant substantial coverage for Medicaid.

Maloney declined to weigh in on the proposed legislation, since she has not yet seen it—but insisted that reforming, not repealing, Obamacare is the answer.

“It’s helping you take care of yourself and you have to take responsibility to go to the doctor, take these preventive tests and make sure that you’re as healthy as you possibly can,” Maloney said. “And you get this free as part of Medicare, as part of the Affordable Care Act.”

She asserted that New Yorkers who fell into the Medicare “donut hole”—a limit on what an individual’s drug plan will cover for drugs—saved an average of $1,195 thanks to the Affordable Care Act. And during 2016, 40 million Medicare beneficiaries, including 2,440,280 New Yorkers, received preventive care free off charge.

“What’s most important to a senior center and seniors would be the closing of the [Medicare coverage] donut hole, making sure that the services are there,” she said, crediting the act with extending the solvency of the Medicare trust fund more than a decade by reducing unnecessary spending.

During the event, Maloney asserted that since Obama signed ACA into law in 2010, nearly 12 million Medicare beneficiaries have saved $26 billion on prescription drug costs. She added that the first bill that she got passed in Congress expanded Medicare to cover annual mammograms and that another included bone density tests.

Obamacare, she said, now covers colonoscopies, bone density, prostate cancer and other screenings key for men and women’s preventive care.

When one senior in attendance asked Maloney how to engage Trump on the issue, the congresswoman suggested that a group of roughly 20 to 25 people send a letter to the president and ask him to meet with them. But she noted that she herself has not succeeded in getting a conference with Trump despite asking for one.

She said that Democrats tried to push forward a bill that would expand Medicare to a larger segment of the population, but were unable to pass it. She also suggested imposing controls on drug prices, but noted that Republicans “feel very strongly” about the free market system and would likely block the proposal.

“So there are many different things but do I have the answers?” Maloney said. “I don’t have the answers for every single one.”

Maloney remarked on the “fragmented” nature of the congressional GOP, split between the larger mainstream conference and the Tea Party Freedom Caucus.

The president has insisted that the House and Senate simultaneously repeal and replace Obamacare, but it is unclear whether lawmakers on the Hill have the votes to do the latter.