New Yorkers Happy About Health Care, Mostly

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
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    The health care reform legislation that triumphed in Washington Sunday night is causing sore throats in New York on Monday -- from all the cheering, that is.

    Gothamites praised Barack Obama for accomplishing what previous presidents could not.

    "I think it's about time," Lorraine Millan of Staten Island told NBCNewYork. "I think Obama needed to put his foot down and get this done. I think that the public doesn't understand that this is in our best interest without a doubt."

    Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted the sweeping overhaul wasn't a perfect plan, but touted the benefits of the bill for New Yorkers.

    "We have a lot of uninsured New Yorkers -- $8 billion dollars in taxes we all pay to cover the uninsured -- so this is a very good day for New York and a very good day for the country," said Weiner.

    The argument of the historic reform has gone back and forth in Congress for nearly a year on points from its nearly trillion dollar price tag, to the expansion of the Medicaid program.

    "Lives will change," Vicki DeKlerk, 53, of Manhattan told the Daily News. DeKlerk, who teaches nursing in Europe, pointed out that the United States "will join other civilized nations with public health care. It's about time."

    Brooklyn's Barbara Gore, who works at Belleveue Hospital, told the News that she hopes the new legislation stop people from only seeking care when it is too late.

    "Sometimes they wait until the pain is too much, and they find out something terrible," she said. "This would change that."

    And Norman Blake, a paramedic at New York Downtown Hospital said he is optimistic that hospitals will actually make more money as a result of more people having health insurance.

    "The more people covered means the hospital stays healthy," Blake, 39, told the News.

    But Maureen Curly of Bellmore, Long Island, was an opponent of the bill and voiced dismay at the urgency to push the legislation through "as-is."

    "I'm not happy about it," Curly told NBCNewYork. "The system needs fixing but the way they're pushing it through and there so many different issues that aren't gonna be resolved."

    Republican lawmakers, including Long Island Rep. Peter King, lamented the passage of the bill, claiming that it shows that the Obama administration is not listening to the American people.

     "I'm very disappointed in the vote," said King "I strongly believe that this health care legislation is bad for the country. It's especially bad for the New York-Long Island region and I believe this is a dark day for America."

    Indeed, a reconciliation package still needs U.S. Senate approval or else New York State could get stuck with $1 billion a year in increased Medicaid costs.

    But supporters of the historic legislation said it will be a great improvement to the lives of society's most vulnerable despite any bumps along the way.

    "Our votes today mean that 32 million more Americans will have access to health care coverage," Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-Brooklyn/Manhattan) said before the vote. "Our votes mean that 45,000 Americans won’t lose their lives each year because they are too poor to have health insurance or because their illnesses are too expensive."

    In all, 25 members New York's Congressional delegation voted for the bill -- 4 against it.

    New York State already has some of the strictest regulations on health insurance the new federal bill contains.  For instance, already, you can't be denied here because of a pre-existing condition. New York also already allows children to be on their parents' insurance up until their late twenties.

    Local business owners will stand to gain some subsidies but some will be mandated to provide coverage and they are worried that it will be too expensive.

    Gov. Paterson at a news conference today praised the new federal measure.

    "It puts 30 million people who were uninsured yesterday in the position of being insured today," said Paterson. "Obviously it is controversial --  so have been the great legislations of our time."