Rep. Lee Zeldin at a press conference in Mattituck March 13, where he called on Congress to fully fund the L.I. Sound and National Estuary programs. Photo: Katharine Schroeder

An amendment to the American Health Care Act offered by two upstate New York Republicans is a “jackpot of mandate relief,” according to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)and represents the “single greatest act of fiscal relief ever provided to Suffolk County and its taxpayers.”

The amendment, introduced by Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence) and Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook) would shift the local share of Medicaid costs from counties outside of NYC to the state.

According to the Suffolk County Comptroller’s Office, this would save Suffolk County $4.6 million per week, Zeldin said in a press release today.

“This legislation single-handily flips Suffolk County’s recurring massive nine figure budget deficits into budget surpluses,” Zeldin said. “For the county, and most importantly, Suffolk County residents, this is a dream scenario that lifts our county out of a very dire annual budget crisis,” he said.

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a spokesperson for Suffolk County, said the county is sill assessing impacts of the proposed amendment “in addition to the impact of the $4.6 billion reduction to Medicaid.”

Zeldin said the state can achieve the “amount of efficiency necessary and available in the state Medicaid system … without harming any low income New Yorkers in need of coverage.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was quick to condemn the proposed amendment, which was introduced yesterday.

The Collins-Faso amendment would ban federal reimbursement for state Medicaid funds for local governments outside of New York City, cutting Medicaid for these local governments by $2.3 billion, Cuomo said yesterday.

“When added to the $4.5 billion cost of the ACHA [to New York] over the next four years, the total cost to the state would rise to $6.9 billion,” Cuomos said.

“New York is the only state in the nation affected by this amendment. The only state in the nation,” the governor said at a press briefing yesterday. “It is cheap politics at best.”

The governor’s office today said hospitals in the First Congressional District would lose $41.2 million in federal Medicaid funding under the ACHA, as amended by the Collins-Faso measure. Peconic Bay Medical Center would lose close to $2 million and Eastern Long Island Hospital would lose almost $674,000, according to the governor’s office.

Cuomo said the only alternative to massive cuts would be significant state income tax increases.

Zeldin disagrees. He accused the gove
[five_sixth]rnor of “playing games, shamefully Lying and trying to threaten and scare the public into opposing the Collins-Faso amendment and the American Health Care Act.”

“If the state needs any ideas, I stand more than happy to assist,” said the congressman, who spent four years in the N.Y. State Senate before his election to the House of Representatives in 2014.

Zeldin’s communications director Jennifer DiSiena said today that the congressman is “supportive of many aspects of this bill as written and is likely a yes” vote when the ACHA comes to the floor of the House for a vote, which may be as soon as tomorrow.

Zeldin is closely monitoring the proceedings of the House Rules Committee “to determine exactly what the final bill draft will look like,” DiSiena said.

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