I haven’t read the bills. That was Republican mayoral candidate Nicole Malliotakis’ response today when I asked whether she supports either or both of the two pending Congressional bills aimed at dramatically changing the Affordable Care Act. Those two bills include the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BHCA), the healthcare bill drafted by Senate Republicans which was publicly released last week but has not yet been voted on, and the American Health Care Act of 2017 (AHCA), approved in the House on May 4th. Malliotakis did express an opinion on the Faso Collins amendment, a provision contained in the AHCA that would require New York State to take over Medicaid expenses of counties outside of New York City, leaving New York City as the lone New York locality to continue to shoulder Medicaid costs, saying that New York City’s exclusion is “problematic.”
Malliotakis gave a similar answer on the AHCA nearly two months ago, declining to express an opinion because she had not read the bill. There is a lot to be said for reading a full bill in order to express an opinion, but it’s also an easy dodge. It’s certainly legitimate to reach, and express, opinions on legislation based on good analysis by others, whether in the press, from staff or other interested parties. In this case, Malliotakis is avoiding expressing a view on an issue that has been at the center of political discussion for months, with two months elapsing since the House bill was publicly available, and that may profoundly affect the City she hopes to lead in six months. It’s worth noting that Malliotakis generally is responsive to questions and willing to declare her position on specific issues.
We spoke at a Malliotakis press conference outside City Hall.
Here’s our exchange: