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Obamacare repeal bill is too damaged to pass

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speaks with reporters

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 21, 2017, after meeting with President Donald Trump who came to Capitol Hill to rally support among GOP lawmakers for the Republican health care overhaul. Credit: AP

Amid the debate on the Republican Party’s national health care overhaul, a sudden New York-centric amendment meant to bring Empire State GOP members into the fold is overshadowing the serious problems of the underlying legislation. It is too damaged to pass.

The main bill could cost as many as 1 million New Yorkers their Medicaid coverage and 3 million residents overall their health insurance. It is so devastating that the tiny sweetener offered to gain the votes of upstate Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso is really sour fruit. The amendment would shift to the state the responsibility to provide the 13 percent of Medicaid funding that now comes from the counties, $2.3 billion a year.

Collins and Faso say it would let counties cut property taxes, but the amendment says nothing about it. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, more realistically, says there are two possibilities: The state can raise the income tax, dwarfing any property tax savings for Long Islanders, or make cuts that devastate services and cripple hospitals and nursing homes.

The Cuomo administration says those cuts to hospitals could include $40 million a year in Rep. Lee Zeldin’s district, where about 61,000 people are projected to lose health insurance. Zeldin, though, is cheering the amendment and supporting the bill. Cuomo projects that Rep. Peter King’s district could lose $15 million in hospital funding and coverage for more than 90,000 residents. King said Wednesday he was still undecided.

There are 16 states where counties pay a percentage of Medicaid, but New York is the only one in this amendment. Why? And how can lawmakers defend the idea that New York’s funding of Medicaid should be legislated by Congress? It’s a desperate deal when legislation is short of votes. This overhaul plan should be withdrawn and revised or voted down. Either would be fine. — The editorial board

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