Cobb ties Supreme Court, health care to north country congress race

Updated: Sep. 23, 2020 at 3:00 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Democrat running for the north country’s seat in congress argued Wednesday that President Trump’s upcoming pick for Supreme Court has everything to do with the race here.

President Trump is poised to announce his pick Saturday to replace Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the Supreme Court justice who died Friday night.

The Supreme Court - presumably with President Trump’s pick in Ginsberg’s seat - is scheduled to hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act shortly after election day.

“She (Elise Stefanik) voted for a taxpayer-funded lawsuit that would repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Cobb said Wednesday. “That’s what’s sitting in front of the Supreme Court.”

Like virtually all Republican members of congress, Stefanik opposes the Affordable Care Act. This year, with the COVID pandemic underway, Democrats across the country are trying to use opposition to the Affordable Care Act as a weapon.

“If we don’t think this race is about health care, it is. If we don’t think this Supreme Court appointment is about health care, it is,” Cobb said.

Stefanik’s campaign emailed a response to 7 News, noting Stefanik has “delivered over $165 million for North Country hospitals during COVID-19” and “has a bipartisan record of fighting to protect pre-existing conditions, lower health care costs and improve access and quality of rural healthcare.”

Pre-existing conditions and health care costs were very much on the minds of Cobb supporters who joined Cobb in talking to reporters Wednesday.

Kate Albrecht Fidler of Adams said her husband had a health scare recently and “The ambulances alone cost over $80,000. And the total of his out-of-pocket costs, were we not insured, would have been over $150,000. I cannot afford for the ACA (Affordable Care Act) to be repealed, and I don’t believe my neighbors can either.”

Peter Beekman of Canton has a type of blood cancer which is now in remission, but only because he takes drugs which cost over $20,000 a month.

“So over four years, that’s over one million dollars in costs,” Beekman said.

“Repealing the Affordable Care Act not only removes guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions, but also the provision that prevents insurance companies from instituting lifetime caps” on how much they have to spend, Beekman said.

Cobb reiterated Wednesday her support for an expansion of the Affordable Care Act to include a Medicare public option.

Stefanik’s campaign said Cobb “is on record supporting Medicare for All including for illegal immigrants, which would be trillions of dollars of new taxes and a socialist, government takeover of healthcare that would bankrupt our North Country rural hospitals and raise taxes on middle class families.”

“Tedra Cobb’s proposal on her own website would cancel all private healthcare insurance for hardworking North Country families.”

An older version of Cobb’s web site listed “Tedra’s vision” as “comprehensive health insurance for all United States residents, such as what is detailed in the United States National Health Care Act.” The National Health Care Act was a Democrat proposal first introduced in 2003 that would have created a single payer ‘Medicare for all’ system.

A spokeswoman for Cobb said Wednesday night that Cobb does not favor a single payer system, and that she believes a Medicare public option is the best path forward for expanding the Affordable Care Act. Under a Medicare public option, people would be allowed to keep their private insurance.

Cobb’s web site now notes that she supports a Medicare public option. It dos not mention the National Health Care Act.

In response to the Stefanik campaign’s argument that Cobb “would bankrupt our north country rural hospitals” through Medicare for all, the Cobb spokeswoman pointed to a Republican proposal, the American Health Care Act, which Stefanik supported in 2017.

At the time, the Hospital Association of New York State warned replacing the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act would “upend coverage for millions, destabilize insurance markets, cause a fiscal crisis for the state and localities, and profoundly undermine the ability of hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies, and hospices to transform care.”

Stefanik, a three term incumbent trying for her fourth term, and Cobb are vying for the 21st congressional district seat, which takes in all of 10 north country counties and part of two others.

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