Albany Times-Union: AHCA vote dogs House Republicans

http://www.timesunion.com/allwcm/article/Stefanik-defends-AHCA-vote-11130210.php

Upstate House Republicans' votes in favor of the American Health Care Act last week dogged Reps. Elise Stefanik and John Faso with criticisms from multiple sources on Monday.

In an at-times contentious community forum in Plattsburgh, Stefanik said Monday evening her goal is improving quality of health care and decreasing insurance costs.

That answer seemed to do little to allay concerns of audience members who came armed with health care-related questions to the forum, hosted and streamed online by Mountain Lake PBS, the North Country's PBS affiliate.

Stefanik said in terms of improvements to the bill moving forward, "This is the first part of a legislative process, and I've worked with the Senate numerous times."

The Essex County Republican said the Senate can work to provide better support for states like New York that have expanded their Medicaid programs. She also said the Senate should discuss including a "one-to-one age rating" as exists in New York requiring that people, regardless of age, be charged the same price.

The forum is to be broadcast on Mountain Lake PBS television Tuesday night. 

Stefanik's comments were her first in public since she voted for the retooled AHCA last week. In a Facebook post following the vote, Stefanik said the AHCA isn't perfect, "but it is an important step in reforming our broken healthcare system to help families in our district."

The congresswoman's television appearance comes as numerous voters in her district and across the state and country have chided House Republicans who voted to send the GOP Obamacare replacement plan to the Senate, where it is expected to undergo heavy revisions.

On Monday, a Washington, D.C., health care advocacy group put money behind the scolding efforts, unleashing a mix of television and digital ads targeting 24 Republicans in congressional districts nationwide. The ad campaign comes at a price of more than $500,000 campaign, CBS reported.

In New York, Save My Care is running the ads in Stefanik’s 21st Congressional District, Faso's 19th District and Rep. Lee Zeldin’s 1st District on Long Island. 

“Congressman Faso just voted for a disastrous health care repeal bill opposed by the American Medical AssociationAARP and the American Cancer Society,” a narrator says in the Faso ad.

The ads claim that the AHCA increases health care costs by 20 percent and cuts coverage for 24 million people, that insurance companies can deny affordable coverage for cancer treatment and for maternity care, and that insurance companies can charge five times more for people over 50.

“Congressman Faso, how could you do this to us?” the narrator says in the ad.

As Stefanik defended her vote in Plattsburgh, Faso was facing criticisms in the Hudson Valley from constituents and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the Democrat whose 18th District borders Faso's district to the south in the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Maloney was planning to attend a forum — billed as a "TrumpCare town hall" — in Kingston after, according to Maloney's campaign, Faso passed on a challenge from Maloney to attend the forum hosted by progressive group Indivisible NY-19 to explain his vote for the AHCA.

In a radio interview Monday morning, Faso called the event "a political stunt," noting that he had held more than 200 constituent meetings since assuming office this year and took part in a WMHT televised town hall-style forum in April. 

"Obviously this is just a partisan political effort orchestrated with Maloney, who wants to rise in the ranks among the Democrats and curry favor with his patrons in Albany and in Washington," Faso said on Talk 1300's "Live from the State Capitol."