Saratogian News  |  October 20, 2017  |  Paul Post

Sara Carpenter says her husband, Bob, who is battling leukemia, wouldn’t be alive without the new drug, Imbruvica, which he began taking in 2014.

His battle also might have been lost long ago without insurance because the pharmaceutical product costs more than $11,000 per month.

Carpenter is concerned about the fate of critically-ill patients who can’t afford healthcare if the U.S. Senate adopts a bill similar to one approved earlier in the House, which calls for major cuts.

“People without insurance wouldn’t be able to get treatment,” she said. “They would die.”

She and leaders of two non-profit groups rallied outside Glens Falls Hospital on Thursday, to protest a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

“Congress has failed to renew funding for critical healthcare programs, which jeopardizes access to care for low- and middle-income residents and threatens hospitals across the state,” said Greenfield resident Ron Deutsch, Fiscal Policy Institute executive director.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides coverage for 350,000 children in New York state, he said.

Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) Medicaid payments help hospitals cover the cost of treating uninsured and under-insured patients.

Both programs are at risk, and Glens Falls Hospital could lose up to $3.7 million over several years, Deutsch said.

Saratoga Hospital currently gets $3.1 million of such funding.

“Glens Falls Hospital is deeply concerned by any potential loss of Medicaid funding and anything that jeopardizes people’s health insurance coverage,” Katelyn Cinzio, director of marketing and communications for Glens Falls Hospital, said in an email. “When people are unable to pay for their care, or we are compensated at rates below our costs of providing care, this poses a real threat to our long-term ability to serve our community. We are hopeful that Congress will renew the threatened funding and help us continue to provide high-quality, accessible care to people across our region.”

Ballston Spa resident Joe Seeman, of the Citizen Action Council of New York, said one-fourth of the residents in U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik’s 21st Congressional District are on Medicaid.

“She’s supporting legislation that is going to have a damaging impact on a lot of her constituents,” Seeman said.

But Stefanik spokesman Tom Flanagin said, “One of Congresswoman Stefanik’s top priorities in any Obamacare replacement package was to ensure that no one had the rug pulled out from under them. The American Health Care Act makes no changes to Medicaid until 2020. After 2020, anyone currently on Medicaid will still keep their coverage. The American Health Care Act allows New York State to decide if they want to continue their expanded Medicaid program at a reduced federal reimbursement rate. Additionally, after 2020, advanceable tax credits will be made available for people to purchase high-quality private insurance plans. These changes to Medicaid allow states to target funding for this important program towards those who need it most.”

Stefanik is a strong critic of Obamacare. This summer, she voted for a Republican bill in the House, which sought to repeal it.

A similar measure is still under debate in the Senate.

Stefanik says Obamacare limits people’s healthcare choices.

“One third of the counties in this country only have one insurer on the Obamacare exchange,” she said recently. “That’s not sustainable.”

Flanagin added, “Congresswoman Stefanik does not support the DSH cuts to our hospitals that were signed into law as part of Obamacare. She voted to repeal these cuts and is working with her colleagues to ensure our area hospitals receive the funding they need. She is also helping lead the effort to restore funding for Community Health Centers and for the CHIP program.”

http://www.saratogian.com/article/ST/20171020/NEWS/171029977

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