"We say that healthcare is a human right and it doesn't depend on whether you're rich or whether you're poor or where you live."
"This is one place, one society, one family. To be smart you provide healthcare for all."
Earlier today, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo delivered remarks in the Bronx at the 1199SEIU Rally to Protect Quality Healthcare in New York State. The Governor joined labor leaders, health care workers and other elected officials to rally against the proposed federal repeal of the Affordable Care Act. More information on the impact of a potential repeal is available here.
A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:
Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you. Don’t be starting trouble now. We’re just starting. See what you did George? You got them all fired up. This is an important day and it is also a personal day for me to be here. There are so many family and friends who are in the room today, and to be here at Montefiore, Einstein, which is such an important part of New York. You know, Montefiore really does represent the philosophy of New York. It has been a progressive institution from its inception, an inclusive institution from its inception. It‘s a healthcare institution that represents the best, but it also a vehicle for social justice and it always has been. Not only in terms of diversity, it is one of the first institution to embrace the union movement, and had a beautiful relationship with its labor union. So, it really is a temple of the principles we believe in as progressive New Yorkers. It has a magnificent workforce and a magnificent leader, Steve Safyer, let’s give him a round of applause.
To be with 1199 – I started in this business when I was 22, 23 years old. I was working for a fellow named Mario Cuomo. I don’t know if you remember Mario Cuomo. He was just starting out in politics and he needed support and he went to a union called 1199. At that time, the leader was a very dynamic, charismatic, romantic, good-looking son of a gun named Dennis Rivera, and he still is. 1199 embraced Mario Cuomo. And I don’t know if Dennis Rivera, who started here at Einstein, I don’t know if he learned how to operate on the human body, but I tell you, he learned how to operate in politics and in government and they transformed government in New York for decades. Dennis Rivera.
I was starting out my political career and I had a couple of missteps. I landed on a different part of my anatomy, and I needed some help to resurrect my political career after a couple of losses and I went to 1199 and they said, “We’re going to give you a second chance. They embraced me, and dispatched Jennifer Cunningham, and they made me Attorney General of the state of New York, and then they made me Governor of the State of New York and I will never forget it. And then last year, I went to 1199. I said, “We have to take on a fight and everyone says there is no chance we can win.” And the fight was a fundamental fight for economic justice that said, the working families of this state are being left behind and they are being paid like second class citizens and it’s about time that we raise the minimum wage in the state of New York.
I went and I spoke to George Gresham and we had a meal and I said, “I want you to know George that everybody says we can’t do this.” He said, “Really?” I said, “Yes – all of the policy experts are against it. This one’s against it and this one’s against it.” And I remember he spoke with such confidence, he said we’re going to go to the people of this state, we’re going to do whatever it takes, and 1199 is going to be with us. We got in an RV camper, we drove all around this state. We had 47 pounds of Dunkin Donuts in every corner of this state. I put on 11 pounds, but we passed the minimum wage from nine dollars to 15 dollars. And now we’re heard all around this country. So, 1199 is really a force for justice, and it has done justice, and it will do justice again and it’s going to do justice on this issue. Now you understand this – it’s not just about the affordable healthcare act. I wish it was only about one issue. It’s actually worse than that, as you heard from George. This is a question of who we are as a nation and what we believe as a nation and who we are as a people. And how we see reality. Because it’s not just about healthcare. You have two very different views of the world right now. Two very different views of society and who we think we should be and they are as different as night and day because there are different realities.
We’re fighting now in the state for more money for public education, why? Because there are too many failing schools out there. Especially in poorer urban communities. Too many schools that have failing students, especially minority students. And public education was the vehicle to raise a person up, right? Public education made the American dream a reality – that you could go to a public school and you could wind up being whoever you wanted to be because you got the best education you needed to get in the public education system. And we need more funding to do that, but the other side doesn’t see that. Why? Because their children never go to a public school and they’re never going to go to a public school. So this is somebody else’s issue. We’re fighting now in this state for college affordability – first plan in the nation that would make public college’s free tuition up to $125,000 a year. Think about it. It will change the world. Why up to $125,000? That’s a lot of money. It’s not that much money. You have to send two kids to college, tuition in a public college, a SUNY college a CUNY college, $16,000 a year. That’s without books, without fees, etcetera. How do you do it? So $125,000 you still have to struggle and we want to say every child in this nation, whatever their dream is, when they put their head on their pillow at night, they can say it doesn’t matter what zip code they grew up in, doesn’t matter how much money mom has, how much money dad has, they can go to college and be whoever they want and that’s our dream. But the other side says, we make more than $125,000. And I’m not worried about paying for college I can do that. And why would I help people below $125,000? We’re trying to pass a middle class tax cut. The other side says we’re not middle class, we’re making more, and why should we worry about that?
We're trying to clean up these foreclosed homes that are in communities all across the state that are bringing down everybody's property values. The other side says, "We don't have those foreclosed homes in our neighborhood. I'm not worried about it." We're trying to stop the attacks on immigrants in this nation. Why? Because I am an immigrant and I am from a place of immigrants and my people are immigrants and Steve's people are immigrants. And I see too many people now, my brothers and sisters in the state of New York who are afraid. Too many people who are new immigrants who don't know what this means for them. Are they going to be deported? Are they going to be separated from their family? The other side doesn't see this. They don't come from a community that has large immigrant populations but we do. And the Affordable Care Act is the same thing. It's night and day. It's a different reality. We say, "People need health care." The other side says, "We pay for our health care and its fine, and we contribute to a hospital and we put our name on a hospital and when we need to go somewhere we call the hospital that has our name on it, and we go to that hospital. That's how it works." That's their reality.
In truth, the other side never wanted universal health care. Never. Harry Truman wanted universal health care. They were against it. President Johnson wanted. They were against it. Bill Clinton proposed universal health care. They were against it. And they were never for it when President Obama uttered it the first time and they fought it every way. And they lost and they haven't given up and they won't give up. And we're not going to let them win. I understand their reality but that is not our reality. That is not the New York reality. Most families can't spend $20, 30, 40 thousand for insurance. That is not reality. Most families don't have their name on a hospital wing. That is not reality. It is not reality that we are going to repeal the Affordable Care Act and have the 3 million New Yorkers who are now insured lose their insurance. That is one out of every six New Yorkers has been given insurance under President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act and we're not going back.
We have $3.7 billion proposed cut to our Medicaid program if they do what they want do in Washington. $3.7 billion Medicaid cut would devastate this state. We're not going to let it happen. There are 129 million with pre-existing illnesses that now have health insurance that would lose their health insurance if they have their way and we're not going to let that happen. There are millions of young people who are under 26 years old and now have coverage on their family policy that would lose it, and we're not going to let that happen. That is not our reality. We say that healthcare is a human right and it doesn’t depend on whether you’re rich or whether you’re poor or where you live.
That is not our reality. We say that healthcare is a human right and it doesn’t depend on whether you’re rich or whether you’re poor or where you live. You demand and you deserve quality, affordable healthcare as a human condition. Our reality is what they’re proposing is not even smart. Not only is it mean, it’s not even smart. Because healthcare now is not just about the individual. It’s a public health issue. We understand better and better that we are in one society and health for one is health for all. If I sneeze, you catch a cold, and germs don’t discriminate. Germs don’t say, “Oh you’re democrat. Oh you’re republican. Oh you’re a rich person, I’m going to infect you because you’re a rich person.” Right? That’s public health. You would want to provide healthcare for everyone to protect everyone. We see it more and more. We see it with the zika virus. We see it with legionnaires. We see it with Ebola.
This is one place, one society, one family. To be smart you provide healthcare for all. And in New York, we know how valuable it is as an economic engine. Look at Montefiore, not only is it a beautiful healthcare institution – 31,000 jobs provided by this institution. We have invested and built the best healthcare system on the planet. We’re not going to lose it now. It is a major economic engine for us.
So, I have two messages. First, to the democrats in congress: they better stand up and they better fight. They better show us what they’re made of because there is no going back. They have to learn – they have to stand up and learn from what the republicans did when they didn’t agree with something. And the republican congress fought Bill Clinton every step of the way. The republican congress fought Barack Obama every step of the way. And these democrats have to take a page out of their book and say, “we’re not going to let you take us backwards. You’re not going to undo the progress that President Obama made that was upheld by the courts.” It’s time to stand up and show us what you’re made of. This is not a time to make a deal. It’s not a time to get political. It’s time to get principal and remember who you are; and who sent you there; and who you represent; and who you’re fighting for; and what the democrats are all about; and what the people of the state demand; and what the people of this nation demand.
And the second message is, while they’re in Washington trying to tear down what we built. We’re going to build it stronger in New York. They’re trying to tear it down and we’re going to build it anew. And we’re going to build it higher. You think Montefiore is great now? You ain’t seen nothing yet. We’re going to get stronger. We’re going to get bigger. We’re going to get bigger. We’re going to get bolder. We’re going to get brighter. We’re going to take this year, the state of New York is going to invest another $50 million in Montefiore and the workforce here because we believe in you and we’re going to be stronger than ever. And we’re going to do that together.
Thank you and God bless you!
VIDEO of the Governor's remarks is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h264, mp4) format here.
AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available here.
PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.