The North Country's federal representatives in the House were split on this week's vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, the two candidates running against Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in the race for New York's new 21st Congressional District also differed on the repeal vote, which marked the 31st time House Republicans have held a vote aimed at repealing the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare.
Wednesday's vote, which passed along party lines 244-185, follows a June 28 Supreme Court ruling that declared the health care law constitutional.
"Our goals have always been to expand coverage, improve health care outcomes, and reduce costs for patients and providers," Owens said in a press release. "Now that the Supreme Court has ruled, it's time to move forward with those goals in mind instead of holding votes on political messaging bills. The 'repeal and replace' mantra rings hollow after 31 votes without a single proposal to achieve the goals of lowering costs and improving health care outcomes."
Owens said the health care law expands community health centers, improves preventive care and strengthens Medicare. He added that it helps keep recent college graduates - up to the age of 26 - on their parents' health insurance plans.
Those steps, he said, create a blueprint for improving America's health care system.
"Democrats and Republicans must come together to implement the law, which includes making changes where appropriate to improve provisions that still need work," Owens said.
Rep. Chris Gibson voted for the repeal bill, called the Repeal Obamacare Act. The Republican from Kinderhook in New York's 20th Congressional District said the law includes "massive tax increases" and harms small business owners.
"The Obama Administration itself has already ruled a key provision of the law - the CLASS Act - as financially unsustainable," Gibson said in a prepared statement. "This was a program that was intended to generate revenue.
"We need to enact health care reform that actually lowers costs and increases access to quality care, and this can be accomplished through substantive, bipartisan discussions on commonsense reforms," Gibson added. "I am already a cosponsor of replacement solutions that include provisions like buying insurance across state lines, allowing small businesses to pool together to purchase coverage, and medical liability reform."
Gibson said those replacement solutions can include popular parts of Obamacare like the provision that lets people up to age 26 stay on their parents' health plans, coverage of pre-existing conditions and strengthened Medicare.
Owens' chief political rival, Republican congressional candidate Matt Doheny, said the Democrat should have used the Supreme Court's decision to reconsider his support of Obamacare.
"Instead, our current congressman voted to protect a bill that will impact seniors by cutting Medicare by more than $500 billion, and raise $525 billion in additional taxes, penalties and fees," Doheny said in a prepared statement. "If that wasn't bad enough, the government is going to tax anyone who doesn't get insurance - and 75 percent of those households affected by this tax make $120,000 or less."
Doheny said the law is a "nightmare" for working families. He said he's committed to repealing the law.
Owens' other challenger, Green Party candidate Donald Hassig of Colton, told the Enterprise the House needs to stop its attempts to repeal the health care law and move forward.
Hassig runs the one-man advocacy group Cancer Action NY, which focuses on the purported cancer risk of persistent organic pollutants or POPs, found in animal fats. "One of the most effective ways to control the cost of the Affordable Care Act is to educate Americans on POPs exposure minimization."