WAMC  |  September 22, 2017  |  Dave Lucas

The latest Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act has triggered a series of rallies across New York. WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief Dave Lucas attended one in downtown Albany today, hours before Arizona Sen. John McCain announced he’s opposing the Graham-Cassidy bill…

Community, clerical, political and union leaders gathered in front of the Leo O’Brien Federal Building, calling on Congress to reject the Senate legislation.  Carol Ann Lemon from the New York State Nurses Association addressed the crowd.  “This is completely unacceptable. The plan also would completely eliminate the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid which would leave an additional 11 million low-income adults without health insurance and no access to health care.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul painted a very dire picture of New York without the ACA.  “There’s gonna be huge hits to our hospitals, our nursing homes, I mean you’ll have to close facilities. And I’ve said to Republicans and I went down in Washington in March and sat down with Republicans and said ‘I hope you have a spare bedroom, because when your parents and your grandparents get thrown out of the nursing home, you better take care of ’em. This is how dire it could get. Cuts in home health care aid assistance. Our hospitals are gonna be closing, particularly in rural areas. They’re barely being propped up now. We need to maintain that presence in our rural areas because people still need services now matter how remote it is. And I’ll tell ya right now, I have traveled the state talking about the heroin opioid crisis, we are in a death spiral. We are losing people every single day. The governor and I are fighting hard to combat this, but we cannot afford to lose the financial assist when it comes to us to take care of these people on their road to recovery.”

Capital Region Congressman Paul Tonko is a fellow Democrat:  “Just 10 years down the road, the impact to New York will be $33 billion, with a ‘B.’ 33 Billion. We will witness 2.2 million New Yorkers having their health care ripped from them, and 32 million Americans will have their healthcare ripped from them. This process is on a lightning fast track. They’re going to debate it for just a minute and a half.”

Corey Ellis, who won the recent Albany Common Council President Democratic primary, says health care is a moral right.  “When I hear Senators and Congressmen talk about tax breaks for the wealthiest people, what about your brothers and sisters? What about the moral compass that we all should be operating on?”

Simultaneous rallies in opposition to the health care bill were held Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, Utica, Binghamton and Kingston.