Poughkeepsie Journal|March 1, 2017|Callie Jayne
During his campaign for Congress, U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, called for the Affordable Care Act – or Obamacare – to be repealed. But, in a recent column published in this newspaper, Faso said “We’ve got to fix what isn’t working in the health care law and keep what does work.”
His new position sounds perfectly reasonable. In fact, we couldn’t agree more. But what gives? Why would Faso be changing his tune now?
Just like many other members of Congress around the country, Faso has been inundated with pleas from constituents – thousands of calls, emails, letters and people at rallies asking about what a repeal of the Affordable Care Act will mean for them.
You can see the fear in our community.
Meghan Borland, a Hudson Valley small business owner, fears that repeal will mean that she won’t be able to get health coverage for herself and her daughter with leukemia.
Robert LeVine, an Albany County man with diabetes, was able to get health coverage when he returned from abroad through the ACA, despite his pre-existing condition. He’s nervous about this coverage continuing.
Unfortunately, Faso’s recent rhetoric doesn’t match his actions.
When it came time to take a vote in Congress, Rep. Faso voted to proceed with a Republican budget plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act without any replacement – a position shared by only 20 percent of Americans. This reflects his party’s position: House Republicans have voted over 60 times to repeal the ACA.
There is no single Republican health care plan, which is shocking given that the law has been in existence for almost 7 years. But, perhaps the best indication of their direction is a June 2016 paper by Speaker Paul Ryan and a Feb. 16th “policy brief.” Here are some of the policies included:
High risk pools, championed by Congressman Faso and the Republican leadership as a solution for people with serious medical conditions, have been called failures by most independent experts because of their very high cost and benefit limits.
Health savings accounts might be a good solution for high-income individuals, but do nothing for lower-income people and others who don’t have the ability to put money away in advance for future medical expenses.
And Republicans want to eliminate progressive taxes in the ACA, like the Republican Study Committee’s proposal to repeal increased taxes on people making more than $200,000 a year, depriving the federal government of billions in revenue needed to fund urgent national priorities.
These policies all fail the basic tests of any meaningful replacement bill: a guarantee of coverage, and that consumer costs will be kept down, plan quality will be maintained and the most vulnerable protected.
They’re not designed to help health care consumers like you and me. But they will boost profits of the bankers, insurance executives, and the very rich who are trying to get more tax breaks at every turn and willing to fund the lobbying needed to win.
Here in New York, 2.7 million residents will lose their coverage if the ACA is repealed.
The law has significantly lowered the uninsured rate in New York, lowered prescription drug costs for people enrolled in Medicare, stopped insurance companies from denying coverage to people with a history of illness and replaced “stripped down” plans with a requirement that most plans have basic benefits like maternity coverage.
The economic security of our communities and the lives of our families are at stake. Health care shouldn’t be a commodity or a tool for millionaires and billionaires to make more profit.
Until there is consensus on a bill that moves us forward rather than backward like the current Republican proposals do, our only alternative is to continue to hit the streets.
Callie Jayne is the Hudson Valley Lead Organizer for Citizen Action of New York.