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Newsday: How Long Island's Delegation Stands On Health Plan

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Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford)
OPPOSED

He said the bill would "create a government-sponsored plan which will cause Americans to lose their private coverage and lead to government control of our health care system." He said he is against the plan because it will "increase taxes on individuals and small businesses."

Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Roslyn Heights)
LEANING IN FAVOR

The cost to employers is a big concern. But the cost of not doing it is even a greater concern," he said. "If we decide to do nothing . . . the cost of health care will only get steeper, the number without coverage will only get greater and the cost to provide to those without insurance will only get larger." He said the surtax of $40 a month for those earning more than a $500,000 a year is "not an absurd amount," and right now it is costing them $1,000 a year to pay the health cost for those who are uninsured and using emergency rooms.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola)
LEANING STRONGLY IN FAVOR

"The time is right," said the former nurse. The "fear tactics" used by the insurance companies in the past will no longer work. "We're in worse condition now than when [President] Clinton tried to get it through before." She said the health plan will provide insurance and primary health care to poorer populations in her district who are now underserved and are forced to go to costly emergency rooms for treatment. "There are going to be savings on the prevention end," she said. She added the new plan will also force insurance companies to vie for customers. "This will give the insurance companies competition," she said.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington)
UNDECIDED

He said he "agrees that there needs to be fundamental health care reform in this country," but he is still reviewing details of the bill and "it remains to be seen whether this bill accomplishes it." He said he has "two bench marks" for any plan - "it cannot ask the middle class and working families to pay for it and it cannot disrupt coverage of existing plans." At first glance, he said the income levels of the surtax "appear reasonable" and the bill seems to deal with the problem that inundates his office - people being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions. "It appears at first blush, this bill will completely solve that problem," he said but added, "I don't accept first blush; I want guarantees."

Rep. Timothy Bishop (D-Southampton)
LEANING IN FAVOR

"I'm leaning yes, but we have a long way to go," he said, noting the bill is likely to go through significant alterations in coming days. He said he likes the inclusion of a public plan option that he said is "essential to provide people with a choice," and to keep private insurance companies honest. "Right now the rates go up significantly each year while the companies lowball the doctors and the hospitals, while walking away with $30 million in profit," he said. He also likes the provision that requires those with pre-existing conditions to be covered. "In effect there will be no discrimination and that's very important."


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