Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 22, 2010

Rep. McMahon’s response to my open letter

I thought it would be fair to post this here:

Dear Mr. Barteldes,

I would like to share with you my statement on healthcare legislation.

“As a lifelong resident of Staten Island, I am committed to providing the highest quality of care possible for the residents of Staten Island and Brooklyn.  I have long been – and continue to be – supportive of reforming our health care system in a way that brings down costs and provides affordable health coverage to all Americans.  Despite my commitment to improving our health care system, I could not in good conscience vote for the Senate health care bill or for the changes presented in the reconciliation package.  I am very supportive of many provisions in the bill, particularly the efforts to provide strong consumer protections and reduced health care costs for small businesses, but I remain concerned about the effect this package will have back at home.    

“Our district has no public or city hospitals.  Staten Island, in fact, is the only borough in New York City without one.  I fear that the changes proposed to the disproportionate share hospitals (DSH) reimbursement rates will cut millions from our local hospitals at a time when they can least afford it. This health care package will hurt Richmond University Medical Center and Staten Island University Hospital, with an estimated loss of $25 million and $45 million, respectively from DSH payments.  Maimonides and Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn will also be affected, with estimated DSH cuts totaling approximately $112 million and $70 million, respectively.  I am hopeful that these cuts can be reversed at a later time, but without the assurance that these funds will be restored, I could not vote for a bill that might lead to another hospital closure in our district.  These bills also fail to address adjusting the rate of payment doctors get and may cause many to no longer accept Medicare and Medicaid.  Further, the package reduces Medicare Advantage on which 40% of our seniors rely and cuts Medicare overall by over $400 billion.  

“I believe we need to reform our health care system, but this legislative package is not the way to do it.  We must contain the costs of health care and not hurt our local hospitals and doctors.  The bill doesn’t go far enough in my mind to hold the hospitals of my district harmless from future cuts, nor does it guarantee to hold down costs for those with insurance.  

“Despite my decision to vote against this legislation, I am committed to health care reform and am strongly supportive of many provisions in this bill.  This reform package expands coverage and bans insurance companies from denying insurance to someone with a pre-existing condition.  It will allow children to stay on their parents plans until age 26.  It will give an annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses, thus preventing people from going into bankruptcy to pay for health care.  And the insurance exchanges will provide the same quality insurance options available to Members of Congress and their staff.  These are all good provisions that should be supported broadly across our community.

“A year and a half ago, the people of New York’s 13th Congressional district had enough faith in me to send me to Washington to represent their interests.  Over the course of that time, I have heard from more than 13,000 Staten Islanders and Brooklynites who each feel passionately about health care reform.  The debate and dialogue has stretched from Petrides High School and 86th Street in Brooklyn to the Capitol and White House.  Throughout the entire process, I listened and learned from local nurses, doctors and health care professionals about what works with our health care system and what needs to be fixed.  I thoroughly reviewed the drafts of the bills and considered their local and national impact.  Whether people are in favor of this health care reform effort or not, I hope my constituents understand that this was not a decision made lightly.

“My vote is not a referendum on this Congress or Administration.   The debate on health care was robust but also troubling. When I ran for Congress, I pledged to be an independent voice for Staten Islanders and Brooklynites and to work together with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner.  But partisan games, political divisions, misinformation campaigns and incriminations were not what our Founding Fathers intended. Our country is facing tremendous challenges, from rising deficits and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to aging infrastructure and budget gaps in our City.  As your Member of Congress, I will meet the challenge to get our Country’s deficit under control and our fiscal house in order.  I look forward to working with our President, and both parties in Congress to improve the economy of Staten Island, Brooklyn and the rest of New York City, to create jobs, improve our infrastructure and make our City stronger. I hope that going forward we meet these challenges in a bipartisan manner with comity and a commitment to doing what is right for the American people.”

Michael E. McMahon
Member of Congress


  1. I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work

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