Medicaid reform is the only way to ensure an efficient, honest system that doesn’t overburden New York’s property taxpayers, Congressman John Faso, R-Kinderhook, said in an interview Wednesday.
Faso’s declaration came in response to a group of health-care experts and progressive activists who denounced renewed Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare as a serious threat to New York’s Medicaid funding stream.
Nationally, more than half those who gained coverage under Obamacare did so through Medicaid.
And the mid-Hudson’s first-term congressman has attracted national attention, and considerable ire from health-care activists, because of an amendment he and fellow Republican Chris Collins championed that would shake up New York’s Medicaid funding system.
Unlike other states, New York’s counties split Medicaid funding with the state — a system that dates back five decades to Gov. Nelson Rockefeller.
But if the House Republicans’ health bill passes, the Faso-Collins amendment would shift $2.3 billion in Medicaid costs entirely to the state in 2020.
Faso’s defense of the Republican health bill comes as he and his House colleagues are again tweaking the American Healthcare Act after their unsuccessful effort to repeal and replace Obamacare last month.
Republicans are now considering legislative and regulatory means to unravel Obama’s Affordable Care Act, after President Trump reversed course Tuesday on his recommendation that the House delay a health-care bill until legislators tackle tax reform.
The latest criticism of the House’s efforts and the Collins-Faso amendment came during a Wednesday conference call staged by Health Care for All New York, a coalition of health-care organizations; Health Care for America Now, a liberal political group, and Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union.
Helen Schaub, the local SEIU chapter’s legislative policy director, called the Collins-Faso amendment “a cynical ploy to gain local support” from New York’s moderate Republicans for the House reform bill.
And Richard Kirsch, a senior adviser for Health Care for America Now, lashed out at Republican members of Congress for “putting party above constituents,” while comparing the Collins-Faso amendment to “taking an arsenic pill and sugarcoating it.”
More than 67,000 people in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties could lose insurance under the Republican proposal, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff.
The governor’s representatives estimate Orange County would lose more than $5 million in annual Medicaid funding, Sullivan County would lose more than $1.4 million, and Ulster nearly $3 million.
“The governor has unfortunately reverted to a lot of biased sky-is-falling rhetoric, and his numbers are just simply wrong,” said Faso, who pointed out that New York taxpayers account for $7.2 billion of the $9 billion local governments across America spend annually on Medicaid.
“My amendment is an effort to finally force New York state to not impose these burdens” on local property taxpayers, Faso added. “The idea is to incentivize the state to reform its program to better control spending and to monitor growth and to continue efforts to eliminate fraud in the system.”