Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Schneiderman prepares to fight Senate GOP’s health care bill

June 28, 2017

As published by Politico New York, on June 27, 2017.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he may sue the federal government to block the implementation of portions of Republican health care legislation President Donald Trump has urged lawmakers in Washington to pass this week.

Schneiderman told the Association for a Better New York Tuesday that he is “prepared to challenge in court” aspects of the bill unveiled last week in the Senate, including cuts in federal funding to Planned Parenthood. And he said he is “committed” to challenging the bill’s New York-only provision to shift Medicaid costs from counties to the state.

The attorney general told reporters at the Manhattan event that one lawsuit could argue that a bill with that provision that passes the Congress would interfere with the constitutionally protected rights of women. “Whether they like it or not, women have a constitutionally protected right to an abortion,” Schneiderman told reporters. “If there are sections of the country where Planned Parenthood … is the only abortion provider, there are cases that say you can’t impose an undo burden” on them, by cutting their funding, he said.

The Medicaid cost-shift, he argued, raises issues of state’s rights.

That provision of the health care legislation, which was also factored into the health care bill passed by the House, is being pushed by Republican Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso. The policy could force the state, led by Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to dramatically raise taxes, according to Schneiderman. The legal argument against the maneuver, Schneiderman said, is that federal legislation has no role in determining how states and their counties divide expenses.

“Every federal statute has to have what’s called a legitimate federal interest,” the attorney general said. “For them to come in and say, ‘we don’t like the way New York deals with its counties,’ that’s a core state function, and the question is, ‘whats the legitimate federal interest?’ It doesn’t increase or decrease healthcare, it just messes with New York’s internal processes which, as far as we’re concerned, is not a legitimate federal interest.”

The Senate’s health care bill, though, is facing problems outside the New York attorney general’s control. Senate Republicans put their plan to vote on the bill this week on hold, with support for the legislation insufficient within the GOP.

Schneiderman, in his speech to ABNY, also took time to cautiously praised the Supreme Court’s Monday ruling allowing Trump’s travel ban against immigrants from certain countries who do not have links to American-based businesses, schools or institutions to partially take effect. The court is now due to hear arguments on the ban later this year.

Schneiderman said the court’s caveat reflected an argument he and other attorneys general made in earlier court fights against the ban, warning about the harm a blanket travel ban could have on commerce and research here.

“It’s too early to predict what the court’s ultimate ruling will be, but the arguments about the potential injury to businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions in New York and other states, seems to have had an impact and that was due to our collective work,” Schneiderman said, referring to his fellow attorneys general. “And I think that is going to be a part of whatever decision comes out of the Supreme Court.”

Schneiderman also reflected on his fight with Trump over his eponymous “university,” which was shuttered. A case against the organization from the New York attorney general’s office was settled last year, but not before the Upper West Side Democrat incurred the wrath of the Trump over the course of years.

“The president has gone on Twitter rants calling me a ‘sleaze bag,’ a ‘lightweight,’ ‘a crook,’ and gems like ‘It’s Thursday. Which brand of eyeliner is the nation’s worst AG @AGSchneiderman wearing today,'” he said.

Schneiderman told the crowd it was a harbinger of what Trump displayed as a candidate.

“In retrospect was kind of a preview of the campaign that just concluded last November,” Schneiderman said. “When you go after him, he really does bring everything he’s got. I mean, he set up a website to attack me, he sued me for a hundred million dollars, he filed phony ethics complaints against me, required me to hire my own lawyer to defend myself, the full front page of the Observer was a picture of me as the Malcolm McDowell character from a Clockwork Orange, called, A Clockwork Eric.”

“So, before there was Lyin’ Ted, and Little Marco, I had my own nickname,” he said. “That his first inclination is a kind of scorched-earth approach.”

The lesson, said Schneiderman is simply to persevere. “Don’t get distracted,” he said, and despite his proclamations otherwise, Trump will “settle cases.” When asked to elaborate on his strategy for dealing with Trump, Schneiderman told the audience, “I don’t live on Twitter and I urge all of you, it’s better for your mental health to just put down the device, often during the day.”