PLATTSBURGH — Candidates in the race for the 21st Congressional District seat disagree on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the Affordable Healthcare Act, known as Obamacare.
Republican challenger Matt Doheny was disappointed with the ruling, while incumbent Democrat Bill Owens was pleased.
“I’ve always thought that this was the first step in the right direction for helping to lower costs for health care and improving health-care outcomes,” said Owens, who voted for the bill in early 2010 right after he took office.
The court decision said that the plan, which requires every American to have health insurance, is a tax, and that the federal government does have the right to levy taxes.
Owens said the existing health-care system, through which many people are not covered, already is a sort of tax.
“Failure for people to have health insurance is a tax on you and I,” Owens said.
“It is costly for hospitals and for many others, and it is imposing a penalty on all of us.”
Republicans in Congress have said they would work to repeal the law if the Supreme Court upheld it, and replace it with another plan, but Owens is not convinced that will happen.
“Replace it with what?” he said.
“They don’t have anything.”
At a news conference in Plattsburgh Thursday morning, Doheny said that, if he is elected, he will join the Republican effort to repeal the 2,700-page bill.
“We have to look at it in an incremental way and figure out what we can deal with and not have the government say that one size fits all,” he said.
“We have to look at the facts and not the ideology of this and pass a bill that can go forward.”
Later, after the ruling came out, Doheny issued a statement that said Obamacare has been and will continue to be a “nightmare for the average upstate New Yorker.”
“The Supreme Court today ruled that Bill Owens and Barack Obama passed one of the largest, if not the largest, tax increase in American history,” he said..
HOFFMAN PICKS DOHENY
The health-care issue will be just one of many Doheny and Owens will square off on in the campaign.
Doheny, an investment banker who lives in Watertown, won a Republican primary over Kellie Greene on Tuesday. He will now have the Republican, Conservative and Independence Party lines for the November election.
He ran against Owens in the 2010 election and lost in a close race that featured Conservative Party candidate Douglas Hoffman. Hoffman garnered 6 percent of the vote despite not campaigning after losing a Republican primary to Doheny.
Hoffman was on hand at the Thursday morning news conference to throw his support behind Doheny, and he agreed that the Obamacare plan is bad for the economy.
“Unemployment up 2 points since Owens took office. That’s just not right,” Hoffman said.
Doheny said that repealing the health-care plan is necessary to fix the ailing economy.
“Obamacare has convinced job creators to stand on the sidelines, which has led to our jobless recovery and kept our economy teetering on the brink of another recession,” he said.
“Americans know this bill is bad for our country. We must repeal this bill, and that’s what I will do to put America back to work.”
Doheny said that some of the problems with the bill, in his view, are that it will not pay for itself, it will not protect Medicaid for seniors, and it will not allow “ordinary Americans to keep the health-care plan they like.”
Owens said the health-care issue has been debated enough, going back as far as the days of the Richard Nixon presidency in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and the Obamacare plan can work.
“This has been worked through the system for years, and we’ve had ample debate on this, and we know what direction we need to go in.”
The court ruling also said that states can lose out on new federal funding for Medicaid coverage if they do not comply with the bill’s requirement that they cover more people.
Owens said that part of the ruling is not unreasonable.
“We want to make sure that people are covered, and this has to be a complete picture,” he said.
“We need people covered so they are taken care of and not readmitted to hospitals and have overall better health-care outcomes.”
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