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As President Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington, D.C., consider a repeal-and-replace plan for the Affordable Care Act, changes to the law could lead to a Trump Tower–size hole in New York's budget—estimated at $3.7 billion, according...

Saving Obamacare won't be easy, but the alternative is 'doom,' state's largest health care union chief says

As President Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington, D.C., consider a repeal-and-replace plan for the Affordable Care Act, changes to the law could lead to a Trump Tower–size hole in New York's budget—estimated at $3.7 billion, according...

Saving Obamacare won't be easy, but the alternative is 'doom,' state's largest health care union chief says

As President Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington, D.C., consider a repeal-and-replace plan for the Affordable Care Act, changes to the law could lead to a Trump Tower–size hole in New York's budget—estimated at $3.7 billion, according to the state—and could hurt the area's robust health care workforce, local health care leaders say. To fight back, George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East, has forged an unusual alliance with the Greater New York Hospital Association, run by President Kenneth Raske, to lobby in support of the Affordable Care Act in Washington. Gresham has emerged as a close ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, working in tandem with the governor to support a $15 minimum wage last year. Gresham spoke with Crain's after a Bronx rally last week organized by 1199 SEIU, where Gresham was seated next to Cuomo in the front row.

What did you think of the governor's speech?

I felt he hit the right notes, particularly when he was talking to our elected officials about being strong. The only thing that is going to help us to help folks is to make sure we prevent what is being proposed.

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Will the lobbying efforts of 1199 SEIU and GNYHA be able to turn the tide against Republicans in Washington?

It's not going to be easy. I know there won't be any lack of effort, and we are ready to do whatever's necessary. Whether that will be enough, I'm not certain. If we don't try, we're destined for doom.

Are you worried that Medicaid cuts could result in 1199 SEIU job losses?

There's no question that if the system goes under, if the system begins to tank, immediately hospitals balance budgets. While we're here to make sure that our members are employed with a good living wage, at the end of the day, our mission as health care workers goes beyond that into the health of the community.

Have you asked the hospitals for assurances they won't cut jobs if they lose Medicaid funding?

Health care is transitioning from institutional-based care to more outpatient, ambulatory-based care and fee-for-service to value-based medicine. During this time, there's going to be a flux in jobs anyway. Rather than us fighting to make sure we're employed, we're fighting to make sure that the newly created jobs are ours and the training for those jobs is ours.

Does the union's close relationship with Cuomo ease your worries about the potential $3.7 billion Medicaid budget cut?

It certainly helps to have a good relationship with the chief executive of this state. He's limited as to what he can do, but it's good to know whatever can be done will be done with a governor like Cuomo.

It seems like there's not as much tension between labor and hospital management these days.

We've decided at this point that the greater enemy is the funding, or the lack thereof. At this time we don't have the luxury to have a labor-management adversarial relationship.

You wish that was the biggest problem.

Exactly. There may come a time when we are able to take care of that. Then, we'll fight over the crumbs on the table and what percentage goes where. At this time we're all in danger.

For more health care coverage subscribe to Crain's Health Pulse.

As President Donald Trump and Republicans in Washington, D.C., consider a repeal-and-replace plan for the Affordable Care Act, changes to the law could lead to a Trump Tower–size hole in New York's budget—estimated at $3.7 billion, according to the state—and could hurt the area's robust health care workforce, local health care leaders say. To fight back, George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers East, has forged an unusual alliance with the Greater New York Hospital Association, run by President Kenneth Raske, to lobby in support of the Affordable Care Act in Washington. Gresham has emerged as a close ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, working in tandem with the governor to support a $15 minimum wage last year. Gresham spoke with Crain's after a Bronx rally last week organized by 1199 SEIU, where Gresham was seated next to Cuomo in the front row.

What did you think of the governor's speech?

I felt he hit the right notes, particularly when he was talking to our elected officials about being strong. The only thing that is going to help us to help folks is to make sure we prevent what is being proposed.

Will the lobbying efforts of 1199 SEIU and GNYHA be able to turn the tide against Republicans in Washington?

It's not going to be easy. I know there won't be any lack of effort, and we are ready to do whatever's necessary. Whether that will be enough, I'm not certain. If we don't try, we're destined for doom.

Are you worried that Medicaid cuts could result in 1199 SEIU job losses?

There's no question that if the system goes under, if the system begins to tank, immediately hospitals balance budgets. While we're here to make sure that our members are employed with a good living wage, at the end of the day, our mission as health care workers goes beyond that into the health of the community.

Have you asked the hospitals for assurances they won't cut jobs if they lose Medicaid funding?

Health care is transitioning from institutional-based care to more outpatient, ambulatory-based care and fee-for-service to value-based medicine. During this time, there's going to be a flux in jobs anyway. Rather than us fighting to make sure we're employed, we're fighting to make sure that the newly created jobs are ours and the training for those jobs is ours.

Does the union's close relationship with Cuomo ease your worries about the potential $3.7 billion Medicaid budget cut?

It certainly helps to have a good relationship with the chief executive of this state. He's limited as to what he can do, but it's good to know whatever can be done will be done with a governor like Cuomo.

It seems like there's not as much tension between labor and hospital management these days.

We've decided at this point that the greater enemy is the funding, or the lack thereof. At this time we don't have the luxury to have a labor-management adversarial relationship.

You wish that was the biggest problem.

Exactly. There may come a time when we are able to take care of that. Then, we'll fight over the crumbs on the table and what percentage goes where. At this time we're all in danger.

For more health care coverage subscribe to Crain's Health Pulse.

Brought to you by Crain's New York Business, Health Pulse is a subscription-only website focused on the business of health care. The site is updated every day with breaking news, research and unique information. Subscribe today and receive access to the site and the daily emails. Plus, twice a week we release a special report called Extra, featuring data and statistics.

Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.

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