He took the “local.”
When push came to shove, Rep. Dan Donovan — Brooklyn’s lone Republican Congressman — bucked his party last week and voted against the American Health Care Act, the controversial replacement for the Affordable Care Act that was a signature issue for President Trump. Asked why he took such a political risk, Donovan used the word “local” more than once.
“All policy is local, and my job is to represent the 740,000 people in New York’s 11th Congressional District,” Donovan said in a brief statement after the May 4 House vote. “Despite amendments and revisions, this bill still does not address the needs of the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn. As written, the [act] would impose a tax hike on [New York] City residents to fund tax cuts elsewhere in the state. My constituents would also be unable to use the bill’s tax credits because of New York’s rules on insurance coverage.”
Donovan added that “the relief needed for local families is not in this bill. The plan would cost seniors more for health care at a time in their lives when incomes are limited and they need health care the most.”
The Ridge-to-Rock representative was a little more specific in a recent interview with Courier Life newspapers.
“My goal in this process was to help the people who were harmed by the Affordable Care Act, without harming the people who were helped by it,” Donovan said. “Many of the people who didn’t have insurance before the Affordable Care Act now have it, and our President promised we wouldn’t pull out the rug from under people. Part of this plan would pull the rug out from under those people.”
Donovan turned his focus local yet again, noting that the four biggest employers in his 11th District are hospitals, which he said will receive lower payments under the American Health Care Act.
“They’re already struggling,” he said. “It was going to affect health care workers. Our seniors, people in nursing homes. So there were so many things that got me to [vote] no, and it would have been too difficult to get me to [vote] yes.”
Ridgites who oppose the American Health Care Act, said they were satisfied with Donovan’s vote.
“I applaud him for having the courage to break with party lines and put people before politics when it comes to health care,” said Mallory McMahon of the progressive group Fight Back Bay Ridge. “In addition to being one of the few Republicans to vote against the bill, he actually seemed to be one of the few who bothered to read it.”
Another local progressive was slightly more guarded in his praise for the congressman.
“Our representative did the right thing, but the protection of cost-saving and smart preventative health care doesn’t end with this one vote,” said Costa Kokkinos, an organizer with South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance.
Liam McCabe, a former aide to Donovan now running as a Republican for the Council seat representing Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights, would not criticize his former boss’s break with the party.
“I understand why [Donovan] came to that decision,” McCabe said. “He makes his decisions based on what he feels is best for his constituency. Sometimes that gets him in trouble with Republicans, sometimes that gets him in trouble with Democrats, but that is how he goes about things and I respect him for that.”
Donovan said that despite his nay vote last week, “Obamacare is failing and requires major reform. I remain steadfastly committed to replacing it with a plan that truly works for the people I represent.”