Statement Raises Concerns About Faso’s Health Care Claims

Kingston, NY—Health professionals, advocates, and consumers have signed a public statement correcting recent statements and claims made by Rep. John Faso (NY-19).

Recent polls conducted by NBC News, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal have cited health care as the top priority for midterm voters. In New York’s 19th Congressional District, the topic of health care has taken center stage, featuring prominently in debates, campaign mailings, and advertisements.

While Faso has been vocal on the need to curb exorbitant health care costs, he has voted to cut health care benefits and limit health care access for women and mothers. This runs contrary to statements and claims made by Faso on the campaign trial.

Health advocates are committed to setting the record straight and countering the pattern of misinformation. Three false claims by Congressperson Faso are documented in the statement: 1) that Mr. Faso will protect Americans and New Yorkers who have pre-existing conditions; 2) that Mr. Faso will protect New Yorkers’ access to health coverage and make it affordable; and that 3) Mr. Faso will not take away women’s access to quality affordable health care.

“It’s clear that John Faso has not told the truth about the devastating impact of his health care proposals on working families in the Hudson Valley and Capital District,” said Bob Cohen, a resident of Rensselaer County and the 19th Congressional District who works on health care policy for Citizen Action of New York. “Despite promising to address the rising cost of health care, Faso has voted to gut protections for preexisting conditions, slash Medicaid funding, and restrict health care access for women and expectant mothers. The voters of New York’s 19th Congressional District have a right to know that John Faso has been misleading his constituents before voters head to the polls next week.”

“John Faso seeks to deny healthcare to those who are—in his view—undeserving, no matter how counterproductive such a stance is. Now his campaign is obfuscating the issue and trying to appear bipartisan. We cannot afford to leave healthcare in the hands of lobbyists and their pawns. We need to join every other industrialised country and make healthcare a right,” said Fabio Danisi, M.D.

“As a psychotherapist in the 19th District, I know that affordable and accessible mental health care is essential and often lifesaving. This is one of the many urgent reasons to vote, so the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare can be strengthened and expanded, not weakened,” said Cynthia Muenz, LCSW-R.

“The ACA has allowed many new patients to have access to health care in our community. As a primary care physician I have seen this first hand. Affordable health care should be a human right for everyone,” said Michael Safran, M.D.

“As a mental health provider in our community for many years, it is clear to me that John Faso’s votes have and will reduce all of our access to quality health care on many levels,” said Bob Hausman, M.A.

“This battle to expand access and lower deductibles is personal. As a family doctor in Ulster County for 38 years, I have seen our friends and neighbors harmed or even die from lack of timely care. I have seen families spiral into bankruptcy,” said Randall Rissman, M.D.

The statement is reproduced below:

Statement by Health Professionals and Advocates
on the Health Care Record of Congressperson John Faso (19th CD – NY)

In New York’s 19th Congressional District, as in other parts of the nation, health care access, costs, and quality are uppermost in voters’ minds. As a result, health care issues have been among the most significant issues highlighted by the two leading candidates, in debates, campaign literature and advertisements.

As New York health care professionals, advocates, and consumers, we believe 19th CD residents have the right to solid factual information as to the positions of incumbent Congressperson John Faso as they prepare to head to the voting booth. In examining the facts, we believe that Mr. Faso has distorted his record, promising to protect the right of New Yorkers to quality affordable health coverage, while doing the opposite through his voting record.  Below are three promises that Congressman John Faso has made that simply are not supported by his actions.

False Claim One: John Faso will protect Americans and New Yorkers who have pre-existing conditions.

“I will fight to keep the portions of the ACA that are working, such as guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions…”  Health Care Section, John Faso Congressional web page

Over 130 million nonelderly Americans, including 294,000 19th CD residents, have a pre-existing condition. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, consumers with many common illnesses, like asthma and high blood pressure, were charged higher rates. And many with serious conditions, like cancer and a history of heart attacks, were denied coverage outright. The ACA prohibited such consumers from being denied coverage or charged higher rates.

Congressperson Faso voted for the American Health Care Act (AHCA), the 2017 Republican majority legislation to “repeal and replace” the ACA, which ultimately passed the House. In fact, his vote in committee was decisive in allowing the bill to go to the House floor. The AHCA would have eviscerated the pre-existing condition protections of the ACA by allowing those who experienced gaps in coverage to be charged a large penalty to resume their coverage (30% more for one year), and allow states to obtain waivers enabling insurers to charge higher rates to people with health problems. Under the bill Mr. Faso supported, the 53% of non-elderly 19th CD residents with a history of even minor health problems would risk unaffordable coverage if they, for example, lost their jobs.

Mr. Faso has tried to fool the public by signing onto misleadingly named legislation called the “Pre-Existing Conditions Act”, which purports to protect those with pre-existing conditions. However, Karen Politz, Senior Fellow at the Kaiser H. Family Foundation, a nationally recognized health care expert, says that the bill would allow insurers to charge individuals “a million a month” for their coverage. In any case, this legislation is currently not being seriously considered by the Congress.

False Claim Two: Faso will protect New Yorkers’ access to health coverage and make it affordable.

“Acknowledging the ACA’s failures, the people’s representatives were faced with a choice: do nothing and watch millions of our citizens continue to be forced to buy insurance they cannot afford, or work together to improve a broken system….I believe the American Health Care Act (AHCA) as amended addresses the concerns I have heard…” John Faso 5/4/17 press release upon passage of the ACHA

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the AHCA would result in well over 20 million people in the U.S. losing their health coverage. According to nonpartisan experts like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Kaiser Family Foundation, the ACHA would have: 1) cut Medicaid by $834 billion over 10 years, forcing states to limit eligibility, cut benefits or both; 2) cause millions of people, and older Americans in particular, to pay more in out-of-pocket expenses and premiums; and 3) allow states to obtain waivers from the mandated “Essential Health Benefits” under the ACA like mental health coverage. In addition, the ACHA’s proposed Medicaid cuts would have decimated safety net health care providers like community hospitals, who heavily depend on Medicaid dollars for their survival.

As a result of the documented negative impacts of the ACHA, several major patient advocacy groups, including the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes and the National MS Society opposed the bill.

False Claim Three: John Faso will not take away women’s access to quality affordable health care.

“I don’t think we should be using federal law, particularly in this health insurance reform effort, to deal in a punitive way with an organization which some people may not like politically. So I don’t support this effort to defund an organization which is providing routine health care services to people, and which is doing so under auspices of state licensure, and within the regulation of the state law that’s appropriate.”
John Faso, quoted by WAMC Northeast Public Radio, 1/27/17   

In addition to the impacts on people already discussed, the ACHA has a number of provisions that particularly impact upon women’s health. Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health and other health care services to 2.5 million people annually. The ACHA would have prohibited Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood for one year, limiting or denying access to services like cancer screenings and family planning services for low-income women. This provision, coupled with the proposed Medicaid cuts, would likely have caused many Planned Parenthood clinics to close.

Some of the other negative impacts of the ACHA on women, according to nonpartisan experts are: 1) allowing states to obtain waivers from ACA Essential Health Benefits, including maternity services (commonly excluded from individual market health plans prior to the ACA); 2) capping Medicaid spending, a leading source of coverage for low-income women; and 3) removing the ACA mandate that preventive services like breast and cervical cancer screening be covered for the Medicaid expansion population.

Co-Signers:

William Bebb, RN, Albany Medical Center*
Claudia Calhoon, Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate School of Health and Health Policy*
Marie Campbell, RN, Albany Medical Center*
Dr. Barbara Chatr-Aryamontri
Bob Cohen, Esq., Policy Director, Citizen Action of New York
Iris Avishai Cohen, Psychotherapist, New Paltz
Fabio Danisi, MD
Cindy Dern, LCSW, Psychotherapist
Christopher Garnder, BSN, CRNI, RN, Albany Medical Center*

Andrea Grunblatt, Ph.D., CGP, FAGPA, RPT-S

Linda Gutterman, LCSW
Max Hadler, Director of Health Policy, New York Immigration Coalition*
Kris Harrington, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Bob Hausman, MA, Co-Director, Woodstock Therapy Center; President, Hudson Valley Guild of Mental Health Professionals
Christopher Lee, BSN, RN, Albany Medical Center*
Tara Martin, State Political Director, New York State Nurses Association
Neal Meddaugh, RN, Catskills Regional Medical Center*
Cynthia Muenz, LCSW-R
April Novello, RN, Sullivan County Department of Health*
Tamar Opler, LCSW
Sasha A. Pell, BSN, RN, Albany Medical Center*
Cheryl Qamar, LCSWR
Randall Rissman, MD
Sylvia Rosenfeld, LCSW
Lisa Ryman, RN, Catskills Regional Medical Center*
Michael Safran, MD
James M. Scaduto, MD, FHM, CPE
Roni Schnadow, RN, MS, LMFT, family therapist in private practice
Heidi Siegfried, Project Director, New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage; Health Policy Director, Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY
Ilyse Simon, Registered Dietician Nutritionist (RDN)/Certified Dietician Nutritionist (CDN)
Cara Tevella, RN, Albany Medical Center*
Terry A. Watson, MS Special Education; MA, CMT, LCAT; Licensed Creative Arts Therapist, Bais, Kinder, LLC*

*Organization listed for affiliation purposes only

Sources

“Faso helps GOP health care plan clear committee”, Times Herald-Record (March 16, 2017)
“Insurers could charge huge premiums under Yoder-backed bill, health care experts say,” McClatchy (September 21, 2018)
“Rep. Faso Clarifies Quotes on Planned Parenthood”, WAMC Northeast Public Radio (web page) (January 27, 2017)
“Number of Americans with pre-existing conditions by Congressional District” (with accompanying district-by-district chart; data for 19th CD-NY), Center for American Progress (April 5, 2017)
“Ten ways that the House American Health Care Act could affect women,” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (May 2017 Issue Brief)
American Diabetes Association Press Release, “Leading Patient Advocacy Groups Stand Together to Oppose American Health Care Act” (May 1, 2017)
“The House-passed health bill can’t be fixed,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (updated May 26, 2017)

“Congressional health-care bill ‘defunds’ Planned Parenthood”, Washington Post (May 4, 2017)
“23 million fewer people would have coverage under Obamacare repeal bill, CBO confirms”, Huffington Post (updated May 25, 2017)

“These Republicans are misleading voters about our Obamacare fact checks,” Washington Post (October 29, 2018)

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