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The Rockaway Times
Meeks Takes Down
Presidential Policies
at Town Hall
By Kami-Leigh Agard
Hyped-up weather reports
of Winter Storm Stella, (yes
it had a name), predicted
to wreak havoc in just a few
hours, did not deter droves of
people from attending Con-
gressman Gregory Meeks’
Hall Meeting at the Rocka-
way YMCA in Arverne on the
evening of Monday, March 13.
The room was packed as folks
waited in anticipation to hear
Rep. Meeks’ reports from the
Hill regarding the Affordable
Care Act and Immigration.
Also locals made it their busi-
ness to voice their concerns
over public housing, resilien-
cy projects and more.
Meeks began by express-
ing his distaste for President
Donald Trump’s policies over
healthcare. “The policies and
people, #45, (that’s how I refer
to the president), put in place,
has made it rough in the 115th
Congress, and we only have
reached the halfway point of
his 100 days in office.
“What does it mean for the
families of the 5th congres-
sional district dealing with
#45? On the campaign trail
he promised to protect social
security, Medicare and Med-
icaid for all. He promised to
provide healthcare and in-
surance for all. Now in office,
#45 is trying to replace the
Affordable Care Act (ACA)
with the American Healthcare
Act (AHA). The non-partisan
Congressional Budget Office
just released a report stating
that under the Republicans’
proposed AHA, 24 million
Americans would lose their
health insurance — 14 mil-
lion by 2018 and 24 million in
10 years.
“AHA decimates Medicaid,
deprives millions of families
from healthcare coverage by
effectively denying uninsured
Americans coverage and de-
priving millions of others from
the coverage they were able
to get it under the Affordable
Care Act,” Meeks said. “One
of the things that I think is
the most absurd, because it is
like Robin Hood, AHA gives a
$600B tax cut to the wealthy
for giving the working, middle
class and poor people noth-
Meeks discussed how the
proposal would affect those
locally. “For those of us in the
Rockaways, one of the ways
we have worked together is
to make sure people have re-
ceived healthcare through
federally-funded health out
care programs like Joseph
P. Addabbo Family Health
Center in Arverne, who re-
ceived a lot of federal funding
through the Affordable Care
Act. The Republicans’ pro-
posal will be devastating for
healthcare centers such as
Addabbo’s, as it will take hun-
dreds of thousands of dollars
away from these programs,”
declared Meeks.
One Addabbo represent-
ative in the room chimed in
that the Republicans’ pro-
posal “would take 70 percent
of federal funding from the
healthcare center.”
Meeks continued, “In my
opinion, part of it is based
upon a separate principal, if
you believe every American
should have healthcare, then
you want to go with the ACA
so that everybody contributes
to the healthcare system, in-
cluding young people who
will also pay into the health-
care program, bringing down
the cost for everyone.
“What Paul Ryan's and
#45’s healthcare plan does, it
says you have a choice. Well,
I don’t believe you have a
choice when you don’t have
any money to pay for health-
care. The ACA gives you a
subsidy, so that it makes it af-
fordable for the working class
and others to pay for it. What
the Republicans’ plan will do
is take away those subsidies
and give you a small tax cred-
it that still will not be enough
to pay for quality healthcare,”
Meeks continued. “Also the
Republicans want to change
the definition of what ‘care’ is,
which is not comprehensive.
So depending on what sick-
ness you have and you go to
the doctor, you could be told
that you are not covered by in-
surance because your ailment
does not fit into the coverage
described in your plan. That
poses a big problem because
a lot of people utilize emer-
gency rooms as their prima-
ry care, and can’t pay for it.
So hospitals are going to go
broke and close because folks
aren’t going to have insur-
ance to pay for their care.”
Assembly District Leader
Lew Simon spoke up, “I just
want to speak for the tens of
thousands of people I repre-
sent. Everyone is frightened
about the ACA being taken
away, including seniors and
the disabled on Medicare.
Paul Ryan is part of the dev-
il’s worship gang. I call Mr.
Trump the devil. The Re-
publican plan will harm the
Addabbo Healthcare Center
and St. John’s Hospital, the
only hospital we have on the
peninsula, which is already
financially struggling. With
your leadership, I hope we
can convince the Republi-
cans to work with you. You
are our voice.”
“The Republicans’ bill is
going on the House floor for
a vote next week, and I am
going to oppose their health-
care plan with everything I
have,” Meeks said.
banning travel from six
Muslim-majority countries,
Meeks said that Democrats
are unified on opposing this.
“I don’t believe it is Ameri-
can,” Meeks said. “We, who
have been a nation of im-
migrants, are now anti-im-
migrant? If you listen to the
rationale of this executive
order, you would think we
did not have a vetting pro-
cess before. Germany has let
over eight million refugees
in. In the U.S., there have
only been 20,000. And there
is no record of any of them
being terrorists. Most of the
terrorism taking place in this
country is by those who are
homegrown on American
He advised that immi-
grants, worried about depor-
tation, should be well-armed
with information to protect
themselves. “There is due
process, you do have rights. If
agents come to your door, do
not open it. Ask them wheth-
er or not they have a warrant.
If they do, it must be signed
by a judge. They're coming to
intimidate. Don't get scared,
but make them identify
themselves. And this is very
important : If the signatures
on the warrant are of an ad-
ministrator or district attor-
ney, it is not enough. It has
to be a judge,” Meeks said. He
also advised that folks should
also walk with copies of their
immigration papers or their
visa at all times, in case they
are stopped.