The scramble to get New York State educated on the federal Affordable Care Health Act introduced by the U.S. Senate GOP has been one of the major initiatives enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo recently. Members of the Cuomo administration and healthcare experts have and will continue to host panels on the possible repercussions of Washington’s health care plan. The Cahill Strategies team attended one of these panels at Stony Brook University, where Maria Vullo, the Department of Financial Services Superintendent of the Cuomo administration helped host the panel. Other elected officials such as New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Councilwoman Cartright of the Town of Brookhaven and Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Flemming attended the event as well. Assemblyman Englebright, who was the chair of the Committee of Aging, opened up the panel by stating that we are “struggling with the costs of our elderly” and that “we are being challenged by this bill.”

The panel of concerned but charismatic speakers consisted of nonprofit and business executives that represented health care, LGBTQ and immigrant issues. A Stony Brook University representative spoke about its own concern of the AHCA because of its medicine and research program. Once Maria Vullo came onto the stage, she gave the audience the facts about the effects of the AHCA. She looked at the historical aspects of the Affordable Care Act under President Obama and how it helped New Yorkers when it was implemented. The presentation emphasized the essential health benefits that would be taken away once the AHCA would be in effect if it were to pass in the U.S. Senate.

A lot of the experts on the panel stated that they were more worried about the long term care (i.e. cancer treatment) of their work rather than emergency care, only because they would never turn away a dire patient. The optimism about never giving up on the healthcare of millions of people was shared by each panel member. Most of the audience consisted of elderly people who sought to discuss the area of disability. If the bill were to be enacted it would step back in preserving the protections the ACA provided for people with disabilities.

Amongst the audience, the only conflicting topic was the debate between Single Payer insurance versus the Affordable Care Act. A handful of New Yorkers want the Governor to join California in this policy because it plays an equal playing field in acquiring insurance. Although this rift amongst the community is just another aspect of the healthcare debate, the panel agreed and conveyed that the only way for there to be real change was to get involved in politically.