Reprinted with permission from the Times Union
ALBANY — Congressman John Faso (R-19th)says he would be amenable to having a vote on a retooled version of the American Health Care Act even before the Congressional Budget Office is able to assess the fiscal and social impacts of the bill.
“I would certainly prefer it,” Mr. Faso told the Times Union’s editorial board on Monday, referencing a new CBO “score” on the legislation, which could come up for a vote a soon as this week.
An earlier version of the AHCA, the Republican effort to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, was pulled from the House floor in March after it became clear that it lacked votes for passage — in part because of CBO scores that found it would increase the number of uninsured Americans by 24 million over the next decade.
Mr. Faso said the new CBO score was less significant than changes that would likely be made to the bill if it proceeds to the Senate.
“If I decide to vote for (the new bill) — depending on what the last language is — because this is such an iterative process, my anticipation is that certain changes are going to be made if it goes to the Senate and then comes back to us,” Mr. Faso said. “It is a process that is undoubtedly going to have additional changes that I would like to see.”
The congressman said he did not believe the CBO’s initial estimate of the number of people who would lose health care under the first version of the AHCA was accurate, in part due to his belief that more young people would be more likely to sign up for health insurance if premiums fall due to the bill’s changes.
He remains opposed to language that was included in the recent version of the AHCA that would have cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year, but “my ultimate vote on the bill is not going to be dependent on whether that provision is in or out.”
Asked if the proposal to force New York State to adopt the county share of Medicaid would be included in the next version, Mr. Faso said, “It damn well better.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other Democrats have rung the alarm that the change would force the state to find alternate revenue sources or cuts for $2.3 billion in Medicaid funding.
Congressman Faso reiterated that he wanted to “keep what works and fix what doesn’t” in Obamacare. He supports the AHCA’s attempt to, as he put it, equalize the tax benefit for those who don’t have employer-provided health care.
That would be accomplished, he said, through the AHCA’s proposed advance refundable tax credit, which could be used to pay for health insurance. The tax credit was opposed by many House GOP conservatives who viewed it as an unacceptable government subsidy. Mr. Faso called that resistance “inexplicable” considering the current subsidies offered under Obamacare.
He said a proposed amendment to the AHCA that would allow states to seek waivers from federal regulations that set certain minimums for health care plans that could receive federal support was circumscribed enough to make it unlikely that all but a few states would seek waivers.
“We shouldn’t over-federalize insurance regulation,” he said. “It is more properly the domain of the 50 states.”