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Utica Residents Held Vigil for Imperiled Health Care System

Area Residents Call on Rep. Tenney to Fund Health Care, Not Tax Breaks for Wealthy

Utica, NY — Central New York Citizens in Action held a vigil Thursday night at Oneida Square in Utica to bring attention to federal cuts to area hospitals, health care services, and safety net programs. Members of the community spoke of the grave consequences these cuts would have on their children and families.


Congress has failed to renew funding for critical health care programs like DSH (Disproportionate Share Hospital) and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program), which jeopardizes access to health care for low and middle-income residents and threatens hospitals across the state. The deadline for the renewal of these programs was October 1st.

CHIP provides health care coverage for 350,000 children in the state. The loss of this funding puts children at risk and places an undue financial burden on struggling families.

“As a pediatrician, the fight for my patients’ healthcare coverage is personal. Children who have no insurance usually don’t have a medical home, and kids without a medical home are sick more often, medical care becomes more expensive, and parents miss more time from work. We should think from a preventative perspective, not a reactive one,” said Emerita Pizarro M.D., Fellow with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Trump campaigned on making healthcare better and cheaper, but instead is deliberately sabotaging the health insurance market, without regard for the increased costs that will be borne by citizens. Congress is hell bent on giving tax breaks to millionaires, even at the expense of families who need the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). We want affordable universal healthcare coverage, not these cruel and poorly-thought-out reductions in services. These cuts will decimate our communities,” said Jennifer Kemp of Indivisible Mohawk Valley.

Locally, Faxton-St. Luke’s Healthcare could lose as much as $3.7 million in Medicaid DSH payments. St. Elizabeth’s stands to lose upwards of $2.7 million. The impact of these cuts on hospitals, employees, and patients could be catastrophic.

“I was born with a hole in my heart and will need medical treatment for the rest of my life. If they take away Medicaid or Medicare, I will die. My doctor has ordered me not to work due to my health problems, so I really have no other way to pay for treatment,” said Annamarie Smith, a 37-year-old Utica resident.

“It’s great to see the community coming together and rallying around people who are going to be directly impacted by these cuts. I appreciate the bravery of those who are coming forward to share their stories. I hope Claudia Tenney and other legislators take note of the human face of the draconian cuts they’re pushing in Congress. It’s time to stop all the partisan posturing and focus on finding bipartisan solutions to fix our problems and help those in need,” said Kristina Andreotta, Lead Organizer for Central New York Citizens in Action.

The anticipated cuts lay the groundwork for a new federal tax plan that would slash taxes for large corporations and wealthy Americans.

Utica Phoenix Staff
Utica Phoenix Staff
The Utica Phoenix is a publication of For The Good, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) in Utica, NY. The Phoenix is an independent newsmagazine covering local news, state news, community events, and more. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and also check out Utica Phoenix Radio at 95.5 FM/1550 AM, complete with Urban hits, morning talk shows, live DJs, and more.

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