Congressional candidates weigh in on healthcare


UTICA — The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has entered the rematch race for the 22nd Congressional District in New York, with Rep. Anthony J. Brindisi, D-22, Utica, joining a call for the U.S. Justice Department to withdraw support for a legal challenge to law, and former Congresswoman Claudia Tenney saying she sponsored legislation to protect its requirement that insurers cover pre-existing medical conditions.

Brindisi held a press conference Wednesday in Utica and released a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr asking that the Justice Department withdraw its backing of a lawsuit challenging provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, coming before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Brindisi’s letter to Barr said the Justice Department should support the law while the administration and Congress seek ways to improve it instead, particularly protecting the part that requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions.

Brindisi said an estimated 63,900 people in the 22nd District rely on the act for coverage, whether through state expansion of Medicaid, which insures the poor and people with disabilities, to cover more people, or through getting health insurance through the individual-coverage exchange.

“Their health care and financial security could be at risk should the ACA be overturned by the Supreme Court. We cannot go back to a time when big insurance companies had the power to deny health insurance to Americans with pre-existing conditions or charge so much that coverage was essentially impossible to get.”

Tenney, in an interview earlier this month with the Daily Sentinel editorial board, said she, too, wants to protect pre-existing conditions and sponsored legislation to that effect while she was in Congress after being elected in 2016.

Tenney said she favored ideas such as a model that lets families join a health practice and pay a certain amount each month for care from the practice, and for maintaining public coverage for the needy and seniors.

“I co-sponsored the bill that would mandate that anyone with a pre-existing condition, and yet there was a million or two million in ads saying that I voted to take away preexisting conditions,” Tenney told the Sentinel.

Tenney added today in a statement from her campaign: “I support protecting patients with pre-existing conditions 100% … Healthcare companies should not be able to deny care to those with pre-existing conditions ever. In Congress, I was named ‘Health Center Supporter’ of the year for 2017 by Family Health Network of Central New York and in 2017 named Champion of Health Care Innovation Award American Life Sciences Innovation Council for my advocacy on behalf of patients especially those with urgent healthcare needs.

“I will always fight for those with
medical conditions especially the sick, vulnerable, and our seniors to get high-quality, affordable, and accessible care when I return to Congress no matter what.”

The case, California v. Texas, was originally brought by states against the Affordable Care ACT and by self-employed plaintiffs who primarily challenged the mandate that everyone have health insurance. The federal government does not necessarily want the entire law struck down, but is seeking court clarification and freedom from enforcing provisions that harm plaintiffs, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization that analyzes health issues and policy. The case is to be heard by the Supreme Court Nov. 10.


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