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Michael Dowling of Northwell Health blasts health care bill

Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health.

Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

The head of New York’s largest health system said Friday that the bill the U.S. House of Representatives passed to replace the Affordable Care Act was a “charade” and that if it becomes law would lead to fewer people having access to affordable health care.

“It’s a charade . . . This is not how you do policy change,” said Michael J. Dowling, the president and chief executive of Northwell Health, the largest private employer in the state.

“My first reaction is, I hope the Senate brings more humanity to the discussion and more intellectual curiosity,” Dowling said. “Hopefully, there will be a health bill with redeemable features, not a bill that was rushed to meet a deadline.”

House Republicans on Thursday narrowly approved a bill with no Democratic support. Long Island’s delegation voted along party lines with Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), voting in favor of the bill.

The bill that passed eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to buy health insurance, reduces Medicaid funding by the federal government, and allows states to impose work requirements on low-income people in order to obtain Medicaid.

The bill also lets insurers charge more for pre-existing conditions, but only if they have had a gap in coverage, and retains the requirement that family policies cover children to age 26.

Dowling said all hospitals would take a financial hit if the bill became law. He said hospitals in underserved areas that depend on Medicaid would he hit hardest.

“It would make the conditions in these hospitals untenable,” Dowling said.

New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health has about 62,000 employees in New York, where it operates 21 hospitals. It has $11 billion in annual revenue.

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