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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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STATE SENATOR JOE VITALE (D), NEW JERSEY: Well, not just this year but last year and this year he has applied now to the federal government for a waiver that would allow the state, allow the Department of Human Services to deny access for those individuals you spoke about earlier--anyone who earns more than 25 percent of the federal poverty level.

So, for a single mom who earns more than $3,000 a year, she would be out. She could not enroll in the program. So, her health care access would be in jeopardy. Her life would be in jeopardy. Every health care expert knows that.

You know, the insured people, our neighbors, live longer lives than those who are uninsured. So, the governor is saying, we can no longer afford this. For years, we"ve been doing this. For a decade or more, we"ve expanded access to health care for children and parents who work for a living and do the right thing every day. And now, we"re saying, that"s too much. We can"t do it any longer.

SHARPTON: But, today, you know, the governor really made a connection between the helicopter mess and the work he needs to do by cutting pensions and health insurance. But he missed the point, didn"t he?

VITALE: He missed the point. The point is that there is a responsibility that he has to serve the people. He says this is a distraction. It"s a distraction for all of us when it is that he should be doing the right thing for the state of New Jersey and for those working parents who get up every day, put on their boots and try to make a living. He"s cutting their health care.

SHARPTON: Deborah, tell us about your situation and how Medicaid affects that.

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SHARPTON: Senator, Governor Christie talks a lot about shared sacrifice. But just last year, when New Jersey legislature passed the millionaire tax, he vetoed it. Is there shared sacrifice under this governor?

VITALE: No, there is no shared sacrifice. The people sacrificing the most are the low and moderate income individuals who live in the state, in terms of their property taxes, aid to schools, aid to communities, and health care. She talks about those 1,400 individuals like her who will be kicked out of the program because they"re a childless adult. They don"t have kids. And so, they no longer are going to be welcome in the program.

Literally taking her health care card, ripping it up, and saying you no longer can play. I can keep mine, the governor says, and he gets to enjoy some of the best health care taxpayer money can buy.

But those 1,400 individuals and tens of thousands of prospective enrollees in Medicaid will be denied access to health care. It"s not just morally wrong, which is I think the most important thing. It"s fiscally irresponsible. It"ll cost the state so much more in terms of charity care, hospital stress, closings, international stress. It"s just a bad idea.

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SHARPTON: Senator, it was particularly offensive the way he handled that helicopter press conference today. As if he really had nothing to apologize for.

VITALE: It was a backward apology. He was really blaming the press for the distraction but it was he who created it in the first place. And he does this a lot.

When he is wrong or someone disagrees with him, it"s political. When having a disagreement in terms of policy, on health care policy, for example, he"ll say, oh, Senator Vitale is just being political. He"s playing partisan politics.

What it is that we have all the data, all the information and the right information that makes sense. If he doesn"t agree, he demonizes everyone. And that"s the way to lead.

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