Ill consequence face many with repeal

This past Saturday our Congressman Tom Reed held four town hall meetings in Ithaca, Ovid, Manchester, and Pultney, The day started real early for those attending the Ithaca meeting. Tickets were issued at 6 a.m. with the doors opening at 7.

The actual meeting didn’t occur till 8 and only lasted a hour. There were 450 inside along with media and roughly 250 brave souls outside dealing with 10 degrees, below zero wind chill temperatures. It has taken more than six years for Reed to actually hold a town hall meeting in Ithaca, though his campaign rhetoric has always been to talk down to a whole area of his constituents calling them “extreme Ithaca liberals.”

The venue was small considering many efforts and offers were given to the Congressman to use a larger venue to accommodate the amount of constituents that the area knew would be in attendance — his office insisted the venue would suffice. The passionate crowd wanted answers and they deserved them, but how much could be answered in the mere hour they were allotted?

The next meeting was in the town of Ovid and was held in the town’s fire hall and yes, before you even ask, they kept all the firetrucks inside limiting the space available for the crowd that was spilling out down the walkway. There was no outside sound system, so people crowded like sardines into the hall and many were speaking over one another and it was hard to hear the congressman for he was just repeating the same “playbook” line he had used in Ithaca. So I figured I get a jump on the crowd and headed out for the next venue.

In Manchester we were greeted with police officers, county sheriff officers and state troopers to monitor this meeting. I call that overkill and a total waste of taxpayers’ money, but who am I? I got a front row seat and when Reed saw me there, to say that he was surprised was an understatement. The look on his face was actually priceless. I didn’t get a chance to ask a question, which I was there to listen to the rest of his district — a part that I wouldn’t normally reach. The room was roughly overflowed into the hallway and into the parking lot there was a sound system to reach those not inside, it was 70 percent who demanded answers and 30 percent who were there to support Reed. Again the topic of the day was the Affordable Care Act and Speaker Paul Ryan would be proud — Reed stuck to the scripted message.

The question that Reed tries to avoid was regarding the Congressional Budget Office, which is a federal nonpartisan agency within the legislative branch of the U.S. government that provides budget and economic information to Congress. The office conducts objective, impartial analysis and hires its employees solely on the basis of professional competence without regard to political affiliation. It does not make policy recommendations and each report and cost estimate summarizes the methodology underlying the analysis.

That analysis is expected this week regarding the impact of the Republican health care bill. All indications are pointing to a bad score; Republican leaders are waging a campaign to discredit the Congressional Budget Office because it means the new bill isn’t within the best interest of anyone but the insurance companies and its stockholders. Remember the Republicans have long touted the claim of fiscal responsibility and this bill is quite the opposite.

You will see most Republicans are out there trying to convince you that this repeal and replacement is the greatest thing since jam on toast. I’m here to tell you it isn’t all that the Republicans will have you believe.

Here are some of the things that Reed’s office doesn’t want you to know:

¯ More than 76,000 district residents in the Southern Tier will lose their coverage.

¯ Repeal of the ACA tax support blows a hole in the Federal Budget and will add $1 trillion to the deficit.

¯ ACA transfers $600 million to local state counties to support Medicaid. Every county will see their property taxes increase.

¯ Seniors on Medicare will suffer. The ACA extended Medicare solvency to at least 2029 because of modest tax increases on high earners (wealthy) and on large net investment profits. ACA repeal wipes out these taxes. Seniors will pay more for their medication, since ACA repeal HALTS the gradual phase out of the drug donut hole.

¯ Repeal also eliminates Medicare wellness provisions such as free colonoscopies, mammograms, smoking cessation programs, annual exams and diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol screenings. Southern Tier seniors on Medicare will pay more for less coverage.

¯ Repeal also cancels the real gains women have made in the last six years in coverage, care and cost. The ACA bans higher rates the insurance companies once charged women for coverage. Contraceptive coverage, free mammograms and complete coverage for annual physicals will soon disappear.

¯ Repeal ACA bans Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid reimbursements — since Planned Parenthood is the place most recipients go to for all their reproductive care. Absolutely NO money goes to fund abortions no matter what your Republican representative tells you. If you are a man and are against abortion, get a vasectomy.

¯ Your local rural hospitals will face a yearly loss of revenue in the millions if the ACA is repealed. Community wellness programs are at risk as well because the ACA instituted these places to begin with.

Bottom line, the party that has promised to bring you jobs will cause a lot of you to lose your jobs should you work in the health care field. Those small, rural hospitals like Lake Shore, Westfield and possibly Brooks will be gone or reduced to urgent care facilities forcing you to travel to get to a hospital in an emergency, which could result in loss of life or precious time to save your life. Wake up. The Republicans don’t want you to know this and this is why they are pushing this so hard, so fast.

Cath Kestler is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to