Sen. Chuck Schumer, deeming his fight a matter of “life and death,” vowed Friday “to use every single ounce of energy that I have” to defeat the Republican health care bill to repeal Obamacare.
Speaking at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, the New York Democrat said the draft that his Republican colleagues released after weeks of secret deliberations is “devastating for America and even more devastating for New York.”
“If our Republican colleagues were proud of this bill, there’d be a brass band down the middle of Fifth Avenue and every street in America,” said Schumer, the Senate’s minority leader.
“Are we gonna fight it with every ounce of strength we have?” he asked the audience.
“Yes!” the crowd roared.
The 142-page draft, capping seven years of GOP promises to repeal Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation, was released Thursday. The bill would slash Medicaid and rescind the Obamacare requirement that most Americans have health insurance.
Under the plan, states could drop benefits that were required under Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act, such as maternity care, emergency room services and mental health treatment. People could tap newly created federal tax credits.
Obama, in a statement late this week, said the plan would “raise costs, reduce coverage, roll back protections, and ruin Medicaid as we know it,” citing the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which found that 23 million Americans would lose insurance.
Schumer rallied Friday at Bellevue with local activists and medical workers, threatening that similar crowds will oppose the bill nationwide.
If the bill passes, Schumer told Newsday, Long Island could see an estimated $1 billion in Medicaid cuts over the next four years, out of about a $7 billion hit statewide.
He said middle-class families with loved ones in nursing homes would see higher bills costing $2,000 or $3,000 more a month.
“These are families that are paying for college,” Schumer said, “or getting ready to pay for college. They can’t afford the nursing home.”
He said the bill would also jeopardize addiction treatment programs for people with opioid addictions.
Calls to the White House and the GOP majority’s office were not immediately returned.