Republican challenger Dr. James Milano is demanding that U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside) explain his vote on the landmark health care legislation from March with his constituents, accusing the congressman of supporting the slashing of $500 billion in Medicare benefits.
But the congressman’s campaign said Ackerman has been meeting with constituents since the bill first surfaced and claimed Milano was distorting the issue, saying the bill is not going to lead to service cuts for seniors on Medicare.
“Congressman Ackerman needs to come before the people of the 5th [Congressional] District and explain why he voted to cut their Medicare benefits,” said Milano campaign spokesman Anthony Carollo in a statement. “Dr. Milano is prepared to do a joint town hall discussion on this subject at the congressman’s convenience. Hopefully. he can find the time to answer to his constituents on this matter sometime before the November election.”
Ackerman spokesman Jordan Goldes said the congressman has been meeting with constituents about the legislation “for more than a year.”
“Any constituent who wanted a meeting with the congressman was given the opportunity to meet with him. We also responded to every constituent who wrote in and called our office,” his spokesman said. “In addition, he spoke at community meetings and to various civic groups and organizations about the legislation, and responded to every media inquiry we received.”
While Ackerman has met with residents, it did not stop Milano from saying the congressman “has not addressed any of the concerns of the constituents impacted by this bill.”
The entire House delegation from Queens voted for the health care bill and Goldes disputed Milano’s claims that the legislation will lead to Medicare cuts for seniors.
“James Milano has no clue what the new health insurance law does,” Goldes said. “He just echoes silly, erroneous notions to those people who have looked to derail the process. If he read the bill, he would know that the law does not reduce services to people on Medicare.”
Milano’s spokesman said many voters in the congressional district were “beginning to feel duped” by Ackerman and President Obama on the health care front.
“Ackerman pushed extremely hard for the Obama health-care bill, and now he seems to be running from it,” Carollo said. “Of course, I imagine that both the polls and the calls he’s been getting in his office are telling him what a mistake that bill was.”
Goldes said Milano “had never, ever called us to discuss health care with the congressman to this very day. Maybe that’s because he doesn’t live in our district, never voted here and therefore can’t vote for himself in this election. Nor has he ever written a letter to the editor, expressed an opinion or objected to the new law until now, when he’s looking for a career change.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2010 Community News Group
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