Washington, D.C.

Stefanik, Faso explain their health care vote

Obamacare is broken
Re May 7 editorial, [“Why did Faso, Stefanik vote for health care bill?”] on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), we consider our votes for lower premiums, lower taxes, and patient-centered health care to be necessary and long overdue after the failure of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). We appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Obamacare is broken.
This law put more power in the hands of distant bureaucrats and reduced the roles of patients, doctors and families in health care decisions. As a result, insurance markets are a mess across the country, premiums and deductibles are up, and families across our district and across the country lack choice in their health care decisions.
The status quo is not so much “unsatisfactory” as unsustainable and unconscionable.
So we listened to our districts’ residents as well as 63 million Americans who voted for change in the last election, and returned the power from Washington back to the states.
This is a complex bill that has a long way to go before it becomes law. But here’s what we fought for to get in the legislation.
First, insurance companies cannot deny coverage based on a pre-existing condition.
Second, no member of Congress is exempt from changes to the law. We play by the same rules.
Third, a total of $138 billion was included to cover health-related costs, including maternity care and mental health.
Fourth, we’ve extended refundable tax credits to those without access to employer-provided coverage. This equalizes the tax treatment of health care, no matter where you buy it.
Finally, Medicaid. The AHCA increases Medicaid payments to the state at a rate higher than medical inflation. This is a per-capita block grant. It is not a “cut.” Consider a simple scenario: Someone making $40,000 asks their boss for a $10,000 raise. The boss raises the salary to $45,000 instead. This is hardly a $5,000 pay cut. 
Similarly, New York and other big-spending Medicaid states are receiving slightly less than they asked for under the open-ended entitlement created by the ACA. Now states will be partners in reform, too.
This is what was in the bill that passed the House of Representatives on May 4 with our support.
We hope to see additional improvements to the American Health Care Act in the Senate. Honest disagreements are an expected by-product of complex public policy.
The root of our support for the AHCA is the simple acknowledgement that the status quo is hurting millions of people, and will go on to impact millions more by forcing them to purchase health care they cannot afford to use.
Before dismissing our votes, The Daily Gazette should acknowledge this reality, too.
John J. Faso (NY-19)
Elise Stefanik (NY-21)
Washington D.C.
The writers are members of Congress.

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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