WASHINGTON – Republican leaders are steering the Senate toward a crucial vote on their bill eviscerating much of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s health care law. The pending vote has been buoyed by the near theatrical return to the Capitol of the ailing Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).
On Monday McCain announced through his office that he would be back in Washington for the critical roll call on beginning debate on the legislation. The 80-year-old has been at home in Arizona since he revealed last week that he’s undergoing treatment for brain cancer.
Meanwhile, Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) said he’ll oppose any healthcare legislation that comes out of the U.S. Senate that does not include an amendment that removes the local cost of Medicaid.
Reed released a statement on Monday and reiterated it during his weekly conference call with the media, saying that the Faso-Collins Amendment that was included in the final house version of the American Health Care Act also needs to be included in any final version the Senate puts forth.
“Standing with our local taxpayers is something I care deeply about and this opportunity -to do the right thing by putting the burden at the state capitol that controls medicaid, and can design medicaid, and therefore is ultimately responsible for that system – to me is the right thing to do,” Reed said. “Without it in the legislation I just don’t feel comfortable moving forward with the Senate health bill if it doesn’t have that provision in it.”
The Faso-Collins Amendment – sponsored by Republican congressman Chris Collins and John Faso of New York, would requires every state in the country to assume all costs of Medicaid. It is specifically aimed at New York State, which is currently the only state in the country that still requires local county governments to pay a portion of the Medicaid cost.
The argument in favor of the amendment is that it would help reduce local property taxes but eliminating the Medicaid burden. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state leaders have argued against the bill, saying the removal of the local share would drive up costs at the state level by $2.3 billion – meaning the state would likely have to find ways to offset that increase, including the possibility of reducing local aid.
In Chautauqua County for the 2017 budget which totals $233 million, a total of $30.3 million was budgeted for Medicaid.
It was reported last week that major portions of the Senate Republican health bill — including the Faso-Collins Amendment — likely will end up on the cutting room floor, thanks to a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian, who ruled that major portions of the health bill are policy-making measures that can be struck from the bill unless 60 senators vote to keep them.
With Republicans struggling to even get the 50 votes they need to pass the health bill, the ruling puts Democrats in the position where they could challenge and defeat several provisions in the bill, from the Faso-Collins amendment to a provision barring federal funding for Planned Parenthood.