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Health care still looms in NY23

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The debate over the 2009 health care law signed by President Barack Obama will continue to feature prominently in the November race for Congress.

Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, voted for it. Matt Doheny, his most likely Republican challenger, said he would vote to repeal it.

News releases shouldn't follow far behind when a new health care report comes out or amendments to the law are passed.

To wit: the CLASS Act. It would have paid $50 a day for long-term care, like assisted living or nursing home care. But the federal government realized last year that it wasn't solvent. Not enough people would buy into the program to keep it afloat.

Mr. Owens joined House Republicans in voting to repeal it in the House, but it probably won't pass the Senate, because the administration said it won't be implemented anyway. The vote was somewhat symbolic, but leads to a discussion about whether the "math was sound" and on what to do about long-term care.

The bill accounted for a large portion of the health care bill's promised deficit reduction. When the bill was being considered, the administration and the Congressional Budget Office said that not only would the bill not cost anything, it'd save money. So the fact that it's not being implemented changes the numbers quite a bit.

After Mr. Owens voted to repeal CLASS, Mr. Doheny's campaign pounced.

“Our current congressman may not admit it, but his votes for the repeal of the 1099 provision as well as the CLASS Act proves he no longer believes that ObamaCare will reduce the deficit,” Mr. Doheny said in a statement.

But Mr. Owens said that the changes in the bill weren't anything out of the ordinary.

"I knew in a bill of this size there would be issues needed to revise and redone," Mr. Owens said. "Just like the 1099 provision. I think you have to have the courage and the intellectual maturity to be able to say, 'This is working, this isn’t working.' If it isn’t working, we need to change it."

And how does one change it? What's the federal role?

"I’m not sure that there necessarily is that role, other than educating people that if they’re (acquiring long-term care insurance), there would be a benefit," Mr. Owens said.

Mr. Doheny believes that the health care law should be overturned in its entirety. He also said at his Doughnuts with Doheny event over the weekend that folks should be able to buy insurance over state lines.

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