8 JANUARY 12, 2017 RIDGEWOOD TIMES WWW.QNS.COM Obamacare repeal threatens nearly 500,000 Queens residents: report BY ROBERT POZARYCKI RPOZARYCKI@QNS.COM/@ROBBPOZ If Congressional Republicans and the incoming Trump administration pull the plug on the Aff ordable Care Act (Obamacare), nearly a half-million Queens residents stand to lose their health insurance coverage, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. On Jan. 4, the governor announced the results of a study focused on the potential repeal of Obamacare, something which Congressional Republicans voted dozens of times to do since President Obama signed the health insurance reform legislation into law in 2010. Come Jan. 20, when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in as the nation’s 45th president, Republicans will have complete control of Congress and the White House. Trump made the repeal of Obamacare one of his main talking points on the campaign trail; talk is already underway to begin the process of repealing a law that, despite its reported costs and fl aws, provides health insurance coverage to more than 20 million people nationwide. The cost of repealing Obamacare, according to Cuomo, “is simply too high to justify.” More than 2.7 million New Yorkers would lose health insurance coverage, including a projected 493,058 Queens residents; only Kings County (Brooklyn) has a higher number of New York residents per county in danger of losing their health insurance with the Obamacare repeal. Moreover, Cuomo said, the state budget would take a $3.7 billion hit, as it would lose funding from Medicaid that has helped cover the costs of Affordable Care Act programs in the Empire State. New Yorkers who receive health care savings tax credits would also lose $250 million, as those credits would disappear with the act’s repeal. “Since its implementation, the Aff ordable Care Act has become a powerful tool to lower the cost of health insurance for local governments and New Yorkers, and it is essential that the federal government does not jeopardize the health and livelihoods of millions of working families,” Cuomo said. Obamacare enabled the state to create the NY State of Health insurance exchange, where individuals could purchase their own health insurance plans. This helped cut the rate of uninsured New York residents by half, from 10 percent before 2010 to just 5 percent today, the Governor’s Offi ce noted. Along with eliminating health insurance for tens of thousands of residents statewide, the repeal of Obamacare may also endanger the lives of hospitals across the state, according to Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association. Twenty-seven medical centers in the state “are on a ‘watch list’ for fi nancial stress, and many more both public and private hospitals face similar fi scal challenges.” Those hospitals might be in danger of service cutbacks or full closure without the Aff ordable Care Act’s programs. “Repealing the Aff ordable Care Act without an immediate and adequate replacement plan will make things dramatically worse for safety net hospitals and the vulnerable communities they serve,” Raske added. Maspeth resident launches a nonprofi t organization to help feed the homeless BY ANTHONY GIUDICE AGIUDICE@RIDGEWOODTIMES.COM @A_GIUDICEREPORT Maspeth has been fi ghting a war for months against a proposed homeless shelter at a local hotel, but one resident is looking to do something to help the homeless residents of the community. Crystal Wolfe, founder of the nonprofi t organization Catering for the Homeless, is one of the few people in the area who actually supports the hotel on 55th Road being converted into a homeless shelter. She believes that in order to help the nearly 60,000 homeless people of New York City, communities need to come together to support them. “I live pretty close to the Holiday Inn Express and was outraged over the community’s reaction to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing people in the hotel,” Wolfe said. “I agree that sheltering people in hotels is not an ideal or permanent solution but surely it is better than them being on the streets, even if they don’t have a kitchen in their hotel room.” Wolfe says she has been a community activist for most of her life, volunteering with various parks organizations that help plant trees, and clean up parks, beaches and other park land, as well as being a part of homeless ministries across the country. When she heard of the hotel being converted into a homeless shelter, she wanted to help support the people who would be living there. “Aft er the community of Maspeth’s reaction against bringing a homeless shelter here or housing them in the hotel, I felt like the community needed to hear and know that there were people who live here who felt diff erently,” Wolfe said. “I consider it an honor and great privilege to have the homeless sheltered in my community and to be a part of helping them in any way. I support anybody and any organization who wants to help them.” Besides having a big heart and wanting to help the less fortunate, Wolfe understands the plight of the city’s homeless because she knows how diffi cult it is to come to New York and try to make a living, especially with skyrocketing rents. “I moved to NYC a little over two years ago to pursue my goals and dreams and so I know fi rsthand how hard it is to survive here,” Wolfe said. “Most of the time I’ve lived here, I’ve had multiple jobs at a time trying to get by on my own. The rents are so ridiculously high in NYC that most everyone I know is struggling fi nancially and it would be easier than some people think to end up on the streets. Many here are one paycheck away from homelessness.” Wolfe has experience in the catering business and has witnessed massive amounts of food being thrown away aft er catered events. When she asked her boss why the food wasn’t donated to the homeless, he told her of a law that was passed which restricted catering companies from donating the left over food directly to the homeless. This is where the idea for Catering for the Homeless came about. Wolfe created the Catering for the Homeless organization and website as a way for catering companies to reach out to food pantries, nonprofi ts, church organizations and others to let them know when they will be holding catered events, and when and where the left over food could be picked up for donations, and vice versa. Although things are just getting started for Wolfe and Catering for the Homeless, she is hopeful that catering companies and nonprofi t organizations will come together to help feed the growing homeless population across the city. Photo via Shutterstock Crystal Wolfe, a Maspeth resident, created the nonprofi t organization Catering for the Homeless to help feed the needy.
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