The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure last week to repeal President Barack Obama's health care reform legislation, enacted in 2010 following a heated nationwide debate.
The two congressmen representing northern New York were split on the vote, with one voting for repeal and the other voting in opposition.
In New York's 20th Congressional District, Republican Chris Gibson said the massive health care bill harms small businesses and steps on personal freedoms.
Speaking on the House floor before casting his vote, Gibson stressed that health care reform is necessary, but the current legislation does more harm than good.
"Health care costs were 4.7 percent of the GDP in 1960 - they are over 17 percent today," he said. "We must drive down costs. But the bill passed last year is not the answer. We end up with higher costs, higher premiums, higher taxes, and more burdensome regulation - and more big government at a time when we should be consolidating."
Gibson says that repealing what he calls a costly piece of legislation isn't the end of the health care reform debate - noting that late last week a House resolution instructed four committees to begin work on replacing the bill.
"Ultimately, I believe the fate of this repeal effort will hinge on the content and quality of the replacement bill," he said.
So far, Republicans are pushing a replacement bill that features insurance reform aimed at creating wider access to options and choices, medical liability reform, coverage for preexisting conditions and an assurance that coverage won't be dropped when an individual gets sick.
Gibson says that approach to health care reform is - quote - "patient-centered."
Democrat Bill Owens represents New York 23rd Congressional District and voted against the GOP repeal bill. He points to a recent poll by ABC News and the Washington Post that shows Americans are split on the bill, but most are against a full-on repeal of the legislation.
Owens says he and his staff have encountered similar sentiments at mobile office hours and recent town hall meetings.
"So from my perspective, one of the great claims being made by the Republicans was that they are listening to the people," he said. "Based upon those polls, it doesn't appear to me that they are, and in fact, we are listening to the people. I stand ready, willing and able to look at any proposal that makes the bill better and meets two criteria: it needs to improve the quality of care that we're delivering, and it needs to reduce costs."
Owens believes that the current effort to repeal last year's bill is counterproductive. But he doesn't argue that lawmakers need to parse through the legislation and make some necessary changes.
"We need to see changes made to the bill," Owens said. "Everyone agrees that this was a good first step. I don't think this repeal is a good use of our team; it's causing us to drift back toward partisanship."
Owens says its crucial for lawmakers to seize on the bipartisanship displayed during the recent lame duck session of Congress, during which Republicans and Democrats came together to pass an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts and measures like a repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."