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A Statement from Legislator Burke on Closed Door Healthcare Reform that Hurts the Middle Class, Erie County Taxpayers, and Those Most in Need


Last night Senate Republicans unveiled their version of the American Health Care Act. Their proposal would put thousands of Erie County residents in dire circumstances. My district represents 39,327 Medicaid recipients. Under the provisions of this bill, Erie County will face a tradeoff—whether to allow thousands to be uninsured or increase taxes. Furthermore, to offset the cost of uninsured hospital visits, Erie County residents will bear the burden, seeing their premiums and deductibles rise.

Under federal law, hospitals like ECMC are obligated to provide emergency care to patients even if they lack insurance and cannot pay. In the past, this contributed to exorbitant indigent care costs for hospitals all over the country. The Affordable Care Act reduced indigent care costs by expanding the network of those insured through Medicaid.

The Senate Bill cuts off the Medicaid expansion for states more gradually than the House bill, but would enact deeper long-term cuts to the health care program for low-income Americans. In the face of our region's fight against the opioid epidemic, this could put the lives of thousands in Erie County at grave risk.

Medicaid is the single largest source of funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment in the United States. The Senate Bill would diminish both the prevention and the crisis-response functions of public health.

This bill is a bad deal for Erie County. It would take away health insurance for thousands of our residents, many of whom are young children. It would cripple the progress that has been made in the fight against the opioid epidemic, by pulling away the Medicaid expansion coverage that has allowed people who are addicted to seek treatment regardless of income. I stand strongly opposed to the provisions of this plan, as they will harm everyday working class Americans in WNY. Taking away insurance for those who need it most and providing substandard care for middle income Americans, to subsidize tax cuts for the wealthiest is absurd, illogical, and cruel.