A small group of activists were at NY Congresswoman Elise Stefanik’s office in Plattsburgh Thursday to drop off a copy of the Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act. The Republican-led House narrowly passed the bill on May 4. They are not the only people upset with the plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The Congressional Budget Office report on the American Health Care Act released this week found that 23 million Americans could lose health insurance coverage if the bill becomes law. SEIU 1199 Organizer Dylan Smith says there are even more devastating impacts and calls the bill catastrophic. “We're actually delivering the CBO cost estimate to her. They voted on this bill before they even knew what the analysis was. So I mean we figured we'd deliver it to make sure that she looked at it this time.”
Smith represents health care workers who he says are worried about providing quality care under the Republican plan. “They’re just politicizing health care. They’re coming from a standpoint of profit rather than quality and taking the human factor right out of it.”
Congresswoman Stefanik prohibits recording in her regional offices to protect privacy. Cancer survivor and Essex, New York resident Ray Bazydlo passionately expressed his concerns to the congressional staff. But he feels it was a one-way conversation. “It seems to me that there is a deaf ear. We get pushback saying that this is going to be a better bill and it's going to lower premiums. The only thing that's going to be lower you'll get less for less. That's the way I see it.”
Representative Stefanik was not in her Plattsburgh office. The Republican’s communications director emailed WAMC a statement after the activists departed that says in part: “Congresswoman Stefanik is encouraged that the CBO has found this legislation will lower taxes, reduce our deficits and lower premiums... We will continue to work with the Senate to improve this legislation and build a healthcare system that lowers costs, improves quality and increases access for North Country families.”
While Stefanik supports the measure, a number of the region’s representatives adamantly oppose the AHCA.
Speaking on WAMC’s Congressional Corner Thursday, Congressman Peter Welch told Alan Chartock the process to pass the bill was illegitimate. “There was no opportunity to read it. Not a single person testified and it was a partisan line vote.”
When the CBO report was issued on Wednesday, Democrats in the Senate denounced the House bill. Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, expects any Senate bill to be a simple variant of the House measure. “The House repeal bill is still a humanitarian catastrophe for America.”
Vermont Independent and former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders is outraged that the House passed the AHCA. “I have never seen a health care bill which throws twenty three million Americans off of health insurance. That's not a health care bill.”
New York 20th District Representative Democrat Paul Tonko found the CBO report deeply troubling issuing a statement that the measure “…does NOT protect people with pre-existing conditions and it WILL lead to higher costs and less coverage.”
A statement from NY 19th District Republican John Faso says reports that 23 million will lose coverage is “..not true and relies on flawed reasoning. The CBO also ignores the fact that the ACA exchanges are unraveling in many parts of the nation. The key in my mind is to lower premiums and deductibles while maintaining protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik's full statement sent to WAMC:
"Congresswoman Stefanik is encouraged that the CBO has found this legislation will lower taxes, reduce our deficits and lower premiums. Congresswoman Stefanik fought to add language to ensure Members of Congress live by the same rules as everyone else under this legislation. She also fought to have $15 billion added for maternity care and worked to support our county governments by adding language to reduce the burdensome Medicaid mandate that crushes their budgets. We will continue to work with the Senate to improve this legislation and build a healthcare system that lowers costs, improves quality and increases access for North Country families."
Congressman John Faso's full statement sent to WAMC:
"The CBO has again confirmed that the AHCA lowers premiums and reduces the deficit. Unfortunately, media outlets are misleading the public by uncritically reporting that 23 million would lose coverage. It’s not true and relies on flawed reasoning. The CBO also ignores the fact that the ACA exchanges are unraveling in many parts of the nation. The key in my mind is to lower premiums and deductibles while maintaining protections for those with pre-existing conditions. I expect the Senate to improve on the House-passed bill on both counts and I look forward to continuing to work to improve the health insurance system for all Americans."