On the same day a federal judge in Florida ruled unconstitutional the sweeping Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law last year by President Obama, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) delivered a prognosis of considerable pain for the borough should the legislation be fully repealed.
It was revoked in the House late last month after a 245-189 vote. The Senate was to have voted late Wednesday afternoon on the measure.
"It would be a dramatic problem to Queens," Weiner said on Monday, standing outside defunct Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills. "It's very easy to forget that the uninsured need care, so they go to emergency rooms. Hospitals had to swallow a lot of that care, and this closed-up hospital is a testament to the need to address this problem."
Repealing the 2009 act would leave 385,000 borough residents uninsured with no healthcare options, and cause prescription drug prices to skyrocket for 26,000 Queens seniors, Weiner said.
He went on to note that repealing the law would saddle the city with more than $3 billion in healthcare costs over the next 10 years, according to the city Office of Management and Budget.
Citing several sources, including the U.S. Census and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, Weiner's report also indicated that should the act be rescinded, borough family premiums would increase; residents would be at risk for being dropped unexpectedly by their insurance providers; seniors would be precluded from receiving important preventive care; small businesses would no longer be eligible for tax credits to insure their employees; and young adults between 19 and 25 would be ineligible to join their parents' health plan and receive low-cost insurance.
"This is an entitlement that is currently being jeopardized," said Marisa Bearak, 22, the daughter of government and public affairs attorney Corey Bearak. She recently graduated from SUNY-Purchase and is now uninsured.
"The strange thing of the strategy of my Republican friends is they repealed first," Weiner said. "I don't know what their plan is. I'm eager to have this debate."
According to gop.gov, the website for Republicans in Congress, their Reform Americans Can Afford Act would repeal the Democrats' health law and replace it with policies that focus on lowering health insurance premiums for families and small businesses, increasing access to affordable care regardless of pre-existing health conditions and promoting healthier lifestyles -- without increasing taxes or cutting Medicare.
"If the Republican mantra is repeal and replace, mine is implement and improve," Weiner said.