Dear Congressman Faso,

We are all farmers in your district, and we ask that you vote NO on the American Health Care Act.

Farmers like us, of all ages and all backgrounds, come here to live, learn, work, and run businesses. We are a resilient bunch who value the vibrant agricultural community in CD19 and we know that our community values us. As a member of the Agricultural Committee, you work each day to protect and advance our interests when it comes to access to land, capital and markets. Today we ask that you vote to protect our interest in quality, affordable health care.

It’s been said that only three things can kill a farmer — lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age. This may be correct, which is why healthcare is so important to us. We are all optimists. We all hope to grow old and be healthy, but we are exposed to tremendous risk every day. We know that health, like weather and profit, can change for the worse in an instant.
Every farmer can tell you of unplanned trips to the hospital after an accident, or of a neighbor who became suddenly ill, needing surgery or an expensive course of life-saving medication. In New York, we are exposed to constant threat from Lyme disease.

Farmers purchase insurance in different ways. As a group, we use Medicaid, Medicare, the individual market, and group plans, and some of us are uninsured. On both new and established farms the affordable health insurance and protections of the ACA were built into business plans. Thanks to the ACA, many farmers were able to purchase quality health insurance for the first time in their agricultural careers.

The American Health Care Act, however, rolls back these gains and hurts us all. Reductions in Medicaid eligibility mean that some of us who are struggling to run a business will become ineligible. Those of us who purchase insurance on the individual market, or participate in group plans will see the actuarial value of insurance go down while our out of pocket costs go up. Under the AHCA many of us will be unable to afford meaningful coverage. We will be exposed to needless risk and encouraged to make imprudent decisions about our own health.

This is a bad deal and this is bad legislation. Sure, some of us may benefit in the short term – the youngest and healthiest among us may end up getting a larger subsidy, and some of us may roll the dice by foregoing insurance without penalty or waiting to get sick before buying a plan – but these benefits are a poor bargain because they come at the expense of the poor, the sick, and the elderly. As farmers, we know that one day we may be poor and sick and we all hope to one day be elderly.

President Trump likes to style himself after President Jackson. Donald Trump imagines himself a populist, fighting for the “forgotten men and women of America.” It would be wise for him and for all of those in our legislative chambers to recall what Andrew Jackson knew, that farmers are the “bone and sinew of the country, men [and women] who love liberty and desire nothing but equal rights and equal laws.”

The AHCA does not satisfy those desires. We love liberty, but there is no liberty in a law which “frees” us to choose between buying our seeds and visiting the doctor. That is not a choice any free person should ever have to make. We desire equal rights and equal laws, but are insulted by the notion that there is equality in a law which lavishes tax breaks on the rich while exposing farmers to increased costs and decreased value. Farmers are optimistic not foolish, stubborn not indifferent, sometimes young but always aging. We are the bone, and sinew of this country. We oppose the AHCA because the AHCA stands in opposition to us.

Before casting your vote, we ask you to consider how many of us gained access to coverage through the ACA, and how much we stand to lose if the AHCA becomes law. We ask you to think of us, the farmers in your district, and vote NO on the AHCA.

Sincerely,

Molly Bergen, Hudson
Irene Berkowitz, Treadlight Farm, Bovina
Rebecca Bissonnette, Hudson
Jody Bolluyt, Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook
Anne Bossange, Millerton
Nichole Carangelo, Letterbox Farm, Hudson
Sarah Chase, Chaseholm Farm, Pine Plains
Melissa Cipollone, Millbrook
Jess Clancy, Hurley
Elizabeth Coe,  Mettabee Farm & Arts, Hillsdale
Douglass DeCandia, Elmsford
Matthew Dell,  Treadlight Farm, NYFC-Catskills, Bovina
Tyler Dennis, Alewife Farm,    Kingston
Erin Enouen, Kerhonkson
Kathleen Farrar, Germantown
Isaac Fosl-van Wyke, Gardiner
Patrick Franco, High Falls
Megan Galeucia, New Lebanon
Miriam            Goler, Full Circus Farm, Pine Plains
Yolanda Gonzalez, Quaker Intentional Village, East Chatham
R Wesley Hannah, Solid Ground Farm, Kingston
Kimberley Hart, Starling Yards, Red Hook
Christopher Iversen, Seed Song Farm & Center, Kingston
Sarah Rose Karabush, Amenia
Tianna Kennedy, Star Route Farm, Charlotteville
Patrick Knapp, Back Paddock Farm, Ghent
Richard Lamb, Cunningham Hill Farm, Canaan
Matt Linehan, Sparrow Arc Farm, Copake
Kristen            Loria, Sparrowbush Farm, Hudson
Alisha  McNamara, High Falls
Sean Mallinson, Marsh Mallo Farm, Fort Plain
Dan Melamed, Gallatin
Madeleine Morley, Grass + Grit Farm, New Paltz
Jessica O’Callahan, Wappingers Falls
Nicholas Pandjiris, Whistle Down Farm, Hudson
Margaret Reilingh, Red Hook
Bryn Roshong, Solid Ground Farm, Kingston
Kate Rowe, Germantown
Briggin Scharf, Ghent
Benjamin Shute, Clermont
David Siegel, Stone Ridge
Thad Simerly, Starling Yards, Red Hook
Sarah Simon, Common Ground Farm, Beacon
Alison  Smith, Wild Air Flower Farm
Hunter Smith, Catskill
Judy St. Leger, Dutch Barn Farm, Palatine
Hunter Stone, Deep Roots Farm, Hudson
Jessica Swadosh, Kerhonkson
Ronnie Swartzberg, Phillie’s Bridge, New Paltz
Evan Thaler-Null, Abode Farm, New Lebanon
Eileen  Wallding, Whistle Down Farm, Hudson
Madalyn Warren, Straightoutoftheground, Roxbury
Kristine Wimbish, Kingston YMCA Farm Project, Kingston
Heather Wodehouse, New Paltz
Claire Wolf, Hillsdale
Sam Zurofsky, Kerhonkson
Hollow Road Farms, Inc., Stuyvesant
Jennifer Ronsani, Lineage Farm, Copake
Jean-Paul Courtens, Roxbury Farm, Kinderhook
Jordan Schmidt, Chaseholm Farm, Pine Plains
Michele Maxwell, Canaan
Lindsey Arnold, One Earth Farm, Accord
Martha Suquet, Graylight Farm, East Chatham
Polly Armour,  Four Winds Farm, Gardiner
Sarah Groat, Kingston
Lauren Giambrone, Hudson
Andrew Williams, Millbrook
Luke Franco and Jennifer Elliott, Tiny Hearts Farm, Copake
Soul Fire Farm, Petersburg
Diane Greenberg, Kerhonkson
Jenna Kincaid, Gardiner
Dan Finn, Delhi
Anandi Premlall, Wildseed Community Farm and Healing Village, Millerton

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