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NY officials promise court action if Republican healthcare proposals become law

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a healthcare rally Monday

The U.S. Senate no longer has the votes to pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Two senators announced Monday night that they would would not vote for the Senate's healthcare plan. Earlier on Monday, New York’s top elected Democrats rallied against Congressional Republicans' proposals Monday, saying they will take legal action, if necessary, to stop them.

“I’ve developed a bit of a reputation since January as the guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government,” Attornet General Eric Schneiderman said to cheers. “Always on the merits, and boy, have we got a lot of merits on our side.”

This is not the first time that Schneiderman has made the threat. The attorney general said after the House passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and replacement that court action was likely.

Schneiderman said provisions in both the Senate and House plans to defund Planned Parenthood services “would create an undue burden” on women’s constitutional right to reproductive health care, including the right to choose abortion.

He said restrictions on federal dollars to fund breast cancer screenings and STD tests, among other things, are also unconstitutional. And he said the Faso-Collins amendment, named for two Republican congressmen from New York, would unconstitutionally “meddle” in New York’s Medicaid funding system.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who also spoke, called the Faso-Collins amendment “an old-fashioned con game.” Congressmen Chris Collins of western New York and John Faso of the Hudson Valley sought the provision in exchange for their support of the ACA repeal. It would end $2.3 billion of annual federal aid to counties to pay for Medicaid, and instead require that the state of New York fund the programs instead.

“Faso and Collins, these are the guys who used to be on the corner with the card game,” Cuomo said.

The congressmen have said that their amendment reduces New York’s highest-in- the-nation property taxes, which are collected by counties in part to fund the government health care program.

Cuomo started a fund to try to defeat Collins, Faso and several other GOP congressmen and women in the 2018 elections. According to the New York Daily News, the governor already has raised about $1 million.

In addition to the reductions under the Faso-Collins amendment, both the Senate and House plans would greatly slow the growth of Medicaid spending and would defund Medicaid expansion programs that New York added under Obamacare. The cuts would leave a multi-billion- dollar hole in the state budget, and affect New Yorkers who depend on the government to help with their health care.

Schneiderman said two-thirds of New York’s nursing home patients and the half of the state’s disabled people who rely on Medicaid would be “devastated” by the changes. Two million New Yorkers could lose their health care altogether.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate now will vote on a strict repeal of the Affordable Care Act, with a replacement coming after the 2018 elections.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.