Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued an executive order Friday directing health and social services officials to assess within 30 days how the expected repeal of the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, will affect taxpayers and those who need its services.
Bellone also ordered officials to hold hearings on the potential impact of the changes and empowered them “to utilize any county resources deemed necessary” to compile their report.
Bellone, a Democrat, warned that the impact of a repeal “goes far beyond individual health insurance coverage and has significant implications on Suffolk County’s health care delivery system, including, our hospitals, health centers and nursing homes.”
He also cautioned “the Medicaid program will be significantly impacted by the repeal . . . which could increase the local share of Medicaid and negatively impact local property taxpayers.”
Legis. Kevin McCaffrey (R-Lindenhurst), leader of the Suffolk legislature’s GOP caucus, criticized the effort, “as a complete waste of time” because plans by congressional Republicans to repeal the ACA are only in the formative stages.
“It’s a knee-jerk reaction and a misuse of county resources to assess the impact of a hypothetical,” McCaffrey said.
Brian Nevin, spokesman for Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, said their office has no plans to do anything similar, and called Bellone’s order “very political.”
Legis. DuWayne Gregory (D-Copiague), the Suffolk legislature’s presiding officer, said he will hold a news conference at the Maxine S. Postal Community County Health Center in Amityville Monday, to inform residents of the impact repeal of Obamacare would cause.
“We want to give everyone a clear picture of the devastating impact the Trumpcare plan will have on a lot of residents who are on Medicaid,” he said. “This approach is very short sighted and we want to get the message out there to influence our federal officials.”
Meanwhile, Lisa Santeromo, Bellone’s chief of staff, issued a memo Thursday to all county departments asking them to determine quickly the impact of cuts proposed in President Donald Trump’s new $1.1 trillion federal spending plan.
“We need this information ASAP to adequately assess and advocate at the federal level for some of your programs that have proposed cuts,” Santeromo wrote.
According to Bellone aides, the proposed reduction of $667 million from Federal Emergency Management Agency budget would force the county to pay a 25 percent share on FEMA preparedness grants. Currently no match is required.