Daily Freeman News: Rep. Faso votes for GOP health care bill — and takes some heat for it

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20170504/rep-faso-votes-for-gop-health-care-bill-and-takes-some-heat-for-it

Mid-Hudson Congressman John Faso voted in favor of the American Health Care Act on Thursday — and took heat for it from opponents of the bill.

“The Affordable Care Act has failed in its promises to the American people,” Rep. Faso, R-Kinderhook, said in a prepared statement after Thursday’s vote 217-213 vote in the House to repeal and replace the 2010 act, commonly called Obamacare.

“From the start of this process, I have stated that the responsible path forward includes keeping what works and fixing what doesn’t, Faso said. “The ACA as it stands now will collapse under its own weight if nothing is done, imperiling millions of Americans through higher premiums and fewer choices.”

Faso said problems with Obamacare include rising health insurance premiums and deductibles, a limited choice of insurers, 4.7 million people being kicked off their plans and the fact that 20 million Americans are without medical insurance.

The nonpartisian Congressional Budget Office estimated that a pervious version of the GOP bill, withdrawn in March due to a lack of support, would cause an additional 24 million American to lose their heath insurance within 10 years. Faso said Thursday that the approved bill should result in a smaller number than that, though the House acted before the CBO could provide a revised estimate.

Faso also said the new bill will continue to protect people with pre-existing medical conditions, but the fact that insurers will be allowed to charge those people higher premiums was a sticking point with some Republicans that almost sank the bill this week.

An amendment to the bill provides $8 billion to help those people cover higher costs. Opponents say the amount is not nearly enough.

Faso said another reason he backed the GOP bill was that it contained a provision he helped author that will shift Medicaid costs from New York counties to the state as of 2020. Faso said that will lead to county property tax relief for residents.

Faso represents New York’s 19th Congressional District, which includes most of the Mid-Hudson Valley.

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring, joined fellow House Democrats in voting against the bill.

“This plan is so bad, I’ve spent weeks trying to figure out why anyone would support it,” Maloney, whose lower Hudson Valley district includes a small piece of Dutchess County, said in a statement sent to media outlets. “... On what planet is it a good idea to allow insurance companies to kick folks with pre-existing conditions off their plans? Who wins when veterans, cancer patients, children with disabilities, pregnant mothers and victims of sexual assault have to pay thousands of dollars more to get worse health care plans that don’t actually cover anything?”

Ruth-Ellen Blodgett, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, issued a statement shortly after Thursday’s vote critical of the GOP bill and of Faso for supporting it.

“This is the worst bill for women’s health in a generation,” Blodgett said. “By supporting this bill, John Faso just voted to block thousands of his constituents in New York and millions of people around the country, from essential health care.”

Blodgett said the GOP bill blocks people with Medicaid from accessing preventive care at Planned Parenthood health centers, including birth control and cancer screenings; undermines Essential Health Benefits standards, including maternity coverage; and imposes a nationwide ban on private insurance coverage of abortion.

She accused Faso of “treating the women of his district, and their reproductive healthcare needs, as collateral damage.”

Faso said Thursday that elements of the bill affecting Planned Parenthood are likely to change when the Senate takes up the legislation.

Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley and the group Citizen Action New York plan to hold a protest at noon Friday outside Faso’s district office at 721 Broadway in Kingston.

Citizen Action issued its own criticisms of Faso and other House Republicans on Thursday.

“House Republicans just proved that their only concern is satisfying their wealthy donors no matter the cost to their constituents,” the group’s executive director, Karen Scharff, said in a prepared statement. “Trumpcare will strip millions of people of health coverage, bankrupt families and make it harder for people to get the medical care they need. Members of Congress like Faso ... had a chance to stop it, but they chose tax cuts for the wealthy over health care for their constituents.”

New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Democrat, called the GOP bill “reckless and damaging for our nation and for New York.”

“The bill means far fewer New Yorkers would have insurance, penalizes those who suffer from pre-existing conditions and potentially punches a big hole in our state budget,” DiNapoli said in an email to the media. “Members voted for this disastrous bill without knowing its true cost and impact, leaving millions of Americans behind with no options.”

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