Saturday, March 18, 2017

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Rallies held in Kingston over federal healthcare funding


"We are not going to sit back ..." said Ulster County
Executive Michael Hein (center)

KINGSTON – Three separate rallies were held in Kingston Friday afternoon, defending current Medicaid funding threatened by cuts in the proposed American Health Care Act by Congress.

The AHCA bill, unofficially known as Trumpcare, is intended to replace the Affordable Care Act of 2010, nicknamed Obamacare. AHCA passed the Budget Committee on Thursday. Local Congressman John Faso (R, NY19th) voted for it.

“Nothing short of disgraceful,” is how Ulster County Executive Michael Hein characterized the reforms, standing on the steps of the Ulster County Courthouse, flanked by other officials.

Hein said that county Health Commissioner Carol Smith called the repeal of the ACA, and passage of the new AHCA, the biggest public health threat to the people of Ulster County. “We are not going to sit back, we are not going to let the people’s voice be silenced,” Hein said.

An executive order signed last week by Hein calls for Smith to issue a report detailing the effects of AHCA on local health care institutions, as well as the county budget. These findings will then be presented for public comment at a public hearing next Tuesday night in the Ulster County Legislative Chambers.

AARP Associate State Director Joseph Stelling agreed, calling AHCA dangerous.

“This Act would increase costs and risks for seniors and other Americans, while giving sweetheart deals to health insurance and pharmaceutical industries,” he said.

Stelling noted the bill would repeal the 0.9 percent tax on high earners, reducing the solvency of the Medicaid Trust Fund by four years

Over 50 protesters also held signs and banners outside Faso’s Midtown office on Broadway, in opposition to his Thursday budget vote.

Organized by Citizen Action as the weekly Faso Friday event, the activists claimed AHCA will raise premiums by 15-20 percent over the next two years, while also increasing deductibles.

Public comments posted on Congressman Faso’s Congressional web page mostly criticized his support of the AHCA bill.

In a written statement, Faso defended his Budget Committee vote as routine. “The purpose of this committee vote was straightforward: to assess whether the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees had fulfilled the requirements laid out in the 2017 budget resolution the House debated and passed on January 13. In my opinion, and in the opinion of a majority of committee members, they had.”

Faso said the American Health Care Act now heads to a fourth committee and, likely, the floor of the House for a full vote. “During this time I will continue to carefully review the legislation and gather input from constituents, providers, and insurers about how this reform plan will affect them.” The congressman said.

 


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