Malliotakis, Baumel spar on healthcare in assembly debate
With Election Day fast approaching, Republican Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis and her Democratic opponent Adam Baumel met for a debate in Bay Ridge where they locked horns over health care, rent control and whether it’s necessary for an elected official to hold regular town hall meetings with constituents.
Malliotakis, running for her fifth term in office representing the 64th Assembly District comprising portions of Bay Ridge and Staten Island), and Baumel, a U.S. Navy veteran making his first run for public office, took part in a debate sponsored by the Bay Ridge Community Council on Oct. 23.
“Of course I support (coverage for) pre-existing conditions,” said Baumel, who then criticized President Donald Trump for seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era law which, among other things, prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage for people with pre-existing illnesses.
Baumel said he also fully supports the New York Health Act, a state bill that would mandate health care for all.
But Malliotakis, who said that she also supported the idea of covering people with pre-existing conditions, added she had concerns about the costs of implementing an ambitious program like the New York Health Act. It would cost $200 billion, according to some estimates, she said.
“It’s great to say you want universal coverage. But we have to be concerned about costs,” she told the audience at the debate, which took place at Xaverian High School on Shore Road.
The community council hosted three debates that night. In addition to Malliotakis-Baumel, the audience also saw Republican state Sen. Martin Golden debate his Democratic rival Andrew Gounardes and the two candidates for the seat in the 46th Assembly District in Coney Island, Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge, Mathylde Frontus and Steve Saperstein, go head to head in debates.
Malliotakis, who first won election to the State Assembly in 2010, said she has spent much of her time in Albany fighting corruption and that many of her battles have borne fruit. She pushed for a bill to strip state pensions from lawmakers convicted of crimes.
Malliotakis also said she fought against tax increases and voted at least 300 times against legislation to raise taxes. “I am standing up for the taxpayers of this state,” she said.
Baumel is currently a driver for a ride sharing service who primarily serves physically disabled passengers. He served in the Navy from 2009 to 2013 and attended John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the GI Bill. In 2016, he worked as an aide to Assemblymember Michael Benedetto, a Bronx Democrat.
In an answer to a question from the audience about the state’s rent control law, Baumel said the high cost of rents “is something we really need to address.”
Malliotakis suggested that cutting property taxes would help. Property taxes have skyrocketed by 44 percent over the past decade, she said.
The two candidates sparred over town halls.
Baumel, who said Malliotakis hasn’t held one town hall for constituents in her entire eight years in office, vowed that he would hold them on a regular basis.
Malliotakis countered that while town halls sounded like a good idea, the reality is different. “Often times, you don’t get much of a crowd,” she said.
“It’s hard to know if anyone will show up if you don’t hold them,” Baumel told her.
Malliotakis said she is always willing to meet with constituents in her office and at public events.
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