From the August 26 edition of WNYW's Good Day New York:
Loading the player reg...
ROSANNA SCOTTO (co-host): Senator Kennedy was a major influence in President Barack Obama's health care reform plan. What affect will his death have on it right now? Joining us, Congressman Gregory Meeks, who favors the plan, and former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, who is against health care reform. She's also a patient advocate and on the Committee to Reduce Infectious Diseases. Thank you so much for being here right now; appreciate both of -- you both being here.
Ms. McCaughey, let's talk about health care reform. You know Senator Ted Kennedy over the years.
McCAUGHEY: And we share a goal. We both want to see everyone in the United States who can't afford health insurance get it. Nobody should lose their home or their savings because they get sick and they didn't have insurance. And I've talked many times with people on the staff working on the Kennedy bill, and my concern is the impact on seniors, because this bill and the companion House bill are paid for in part with tax hikes but also with a $500 billion reduction in future Medicaid funding -- that's a 10 percent cut while we'll have 30 percent more people in Medicare.
It doesn't add up. It's going to mean fewer hip replacements, fewer knee replacements, fewer bypass surgeries. I know that Senator Kennedy, whom we'll all miss, got the best health care money could buy. And we want all our seniors to have the same opportunity.
McCAUGHEY: You know, Senator Kennedy did a wonderful job representing Massachusetts, but we live here in New York. And this bill is going to mean huge layoffs in the hospital industry in New York -- it's our largest employer. And the provisions in the bill say that hospitals in New York have to accept the same low payments as hospitals in other parts of the country that have lower costs. And it's going to mean fewer nurses on the floor, a lot of layoffs for therapists and nurses and other people who rely on hospitals for their livelihood.
SCOTTO: You bring up nurses, because yesterday I was checking my emails, and a lot of nurses emailed me and said you're not talking about the nurses and how this health care reform is going to affect us.
SCOTTO: And you're saying --
McCAUGHEY: And of course fewer nurses also means if you are a patient in the hospital, you are lying there waiting for a nurse to come in in the middle of the night, and there is no nurse.
SCOTTO: Well, you know, that happens now.
McCAUGHEY: Right, but we don't have to make it worse.
SCOTTO: That happens now.
McCAUGHEY: That shouldn't be part of health reform.
SCOTTO: We are now hearing now that the national deficit is going to -- set to hit $9 trillion. With Senator Ted Kennedy's passing, with this new information about the deficit, what really is the reality of health care reform?
McCAUGHEY: Well, I feel for Senator Kennedy's family, but there are many ways that the nation could honor him without passing a health bill simply to honor him that will harm seniors, that will force people who have really good health insurance they already like to give it up, and that will create such economic hardship in New York.
You know, Columbia Presbyterian employs more people than Macy's or Time Warner. Hospitals are a source of enormous unemployment -- 38 percent of the workforce in the Bronx. And the president has said that he's going to slow the flow of dollars into health care. He wants to reduce spending in our industry, our bread and butter.