By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Two members of Brooklyn’ congressional delegation spoke out, voicing opposing viewpoints, on the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, after two federal courts issued opposing rulings on the controversial law on Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) and U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights-Brownsville) both issued statements after the flurry of court activity on July 22.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the federal government cannot provide subsidies to help Americans purchase health insurance. Specifically, the court of appeals struck down an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulation issued by that authorizes the payment of subsidies in states that rely on the federal insurance exchange. The court ruled that the language in the Affordable Care Act dealing with subsidies demonstrates that the subsidies can only be provided to Americans who buy health insurance on exchanges run by individual states.
The payments can only be issued through state-run exchanges, the court ruled.
But within hours of that ruling, a federal court in Richmond, Virginia issued a ruling in the opposite direction. It ruled that the IRS can authorize the payments.
Grimm, who opposes Obamacare, said a recent research study indicated that Medicare Advantage recipients in his district, including, including 31,000 senior citizens living in Brooklyn and Staten Island, will see an unprecedented $4,173.97 reduction in their benefits in 2015, a reduction of 24.9 percent. It is the seventh largest cut of the 435 congressional districts in the country, he said.
“Thanks to President Obama’s disastrous healthcare law, seniors in Staten Island and Brooklyn will see crippling cuts to the crucial benefits they rely on for their medical care,” Grimm said.
Grimm said he has consistently voted to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a better plan. “The evidence is clear, the president and his liberal allies sold the American people a rotten bill of goods that is raising their premiums, slashing their benefits, dropping them from their health plans, and endangering access to their trusted doctors,” Grimm said.
Clarke, who champions the Affordable Care Act, said the D.C. Circuit, if eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, would effectively prevent millions of Americans from purchasing an affordable health insurance plan.
“Despite disagreement between the appeals courts about the Affordable Care Act, the American people have reached their conclusion about the law, which has already allowed 14 million people to enroll in comprehensive health insurance plans, a figure that includes nearly one million people in New York State. The premium subsidies were created to allow every family to have access to high-quality health care. These subsidies have worked. Indeed, in many instances, families who have enrolled in health insurance plans have received subsidies that provide for more than half the cost of their premiums,” Clarke said. “I urge the Supreme Court to focus on the purpose for which we enacted the Affordable Care Act: to expand access to quality health care. As a people, we should have the ability to achieve that important purpose,"