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Audio Feature: This week in News for Rep. John Faso: 20170626

Jun 24, 2017 11:00 am
Here's the week in the news for Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook), the District 19 Congressman for the WGXC listening area. Click here to download or play an audio version of this report.

The Catskill Republicans reported on Twitter Sat., Jun. 17, that U.S. Rep. John Faso was in Catskill for a community event that day, but the first-term Republican's public schedule noted no such appearance. Catskill Republicans tweeted that Faso was attending their Catskill Grillin and Chillin Community BBQ cookout in the Bronson Street parking lot in Catskill. Faso's schedule, according to his website, only included appearances at the Meredith Dairy Fest and the Bovina Valley Farm Tour. Previous local Congressional representatives, such as Democrat Scott Murphy and Republican Chris Gibson, included their complete schedule of community events online.

Cayla Harris is reporting in the Times Union on mounting concerns that with opioid deaths on the rise nationwide, proposed cuts to Medicaid would prove harmful, or even fatal for many. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a more than 20 percent increase in opioid-related deaths statewide between 2014 and 2015 in New York. U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said Medicaid funds are crucial to those seeking treatment for substance abuse disorders. The Amsterdam Democrat said the House-approved American Health Care Act, which proposes $880 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program over 10 years, would have "devastating consequences." Medicaid provides addicts the ability to access previously out-of-reach health care services. "Rollbacks on Medicaid expansion would exacerbate a public health crisis into a state of emergency,'' said Stephanie Campbell, the executive director of Friends of Recovery-New York. Representative John Faso supported the American Health Care Act. He said in a statement that Congress has approved billions for opioid treatment through various pieces of legislation. "I'm confident that there will remain sufficient resources through Medicaid which, when combined with these other specific appropriations, will fund treatment options," he said. Read the full story in the Times Union.

The Catskill Mountain News reports that Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook) will make a rare public appearance July 7 at the Roxbury Arts Center in Roxbury. Faso, unlike Scott Murphy and Chris Gibson, the Democrat and Republican that previously represented the area, has not held any traditional town hall meetings. When he does appear at a public event, he only announces the event a few hours before on his website. Protesters have turned out at most publicly-announced Faso appearances since he took office in January. This event is put on by the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce, part of their “First Friday” breakfast series. Anyone who wants to attend must register in advance at delawarecounty.org or calling 607-746-2281. Read the full story in The Catskill Mountain News.

• As Republicans in Washington D.C. are about to reveal some details of their proposed new healthcare plan, Richard Moody in the Register-Star surveys local health officials and advocates who are universally opposed to what they know of the plan. "We’re very concerned about the American Health Care Act. The majority of Columbia Memorial Hospital patients rely on government insurance programs to pay for their care — disproportionately so compared to many other hospitals — which means that policy changes can have a very real impact here in our communities," hospital spokesman William Van Slyke said. "CMH and all providers are increasingly challenged with maintaining services under a reimbursement structure that fails to cover costs or keep pace with inflationary factors." The story also quotes National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. "The correlation between a strong Medicaid program and the success of rural hospitals has become evident during the influx of rural hospital closures over the last six years," Johnson wrote in a letter to Congress. "Seventy-eight rural hospitals have closed since 2010 with over 80 percent of those located in states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion. With another 673 hospitals at risk of closure, the AHCA’s proposed Medicaid cap could have devastating consequences for rural communities." Dain Pascocello, Rep. John Faso’s chief of staff, had a different view. "The ACA is collapsing in many parts of the nation and New York has seen precipitous increases in premiums and deductibles. Standing by and doing nothing is not an alternative for Congressman Faso." Read the full story in the Register-Star.

Matthew Hamilton reports in Capitol Confidential that the Republican Senate healthcare plan was unveiled June 22, and it includes an amendment from Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook). The amendment shifts $2.3 billion in Medicaid costs from counties to cost the state, and Faso crows that property tax bills would go down. When New York raises taxes in response, though, the poor who don't own homes will get a tax increase without any break elsewhere. On June 21, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said middle class New Yorkers could expect a 26 percent tax increase if the Faso-Collins provision becomes law. "Republicans in New York who voted for the House bill sent a clear message that they'd rather be puppets to ultra conservatives in Washington than protect the nearly three million New Yorkers who will lose their health care coverage because of this bill," Cuomo wrote in an email on June 21. "And now the Senate is ready to double-down on this disaster — despite the fact that the latest polls show only 17 percent of people support the AHCA." Faso is yet to engage Cuomo on the issue since the bill was unveiled, but in March said, "The 'cuts' which Mr. Cuomo suggests are an intentional effort to sow fear among vulnerable populations in our state.... The state has until 2020 to plan for takeover of Medicaid costs from counties and there is ample room in the state budget to cut spending by 1.5 percent to pay its fair share of Medicaid." New York Senator Chuck Schumer also commented on the proposal. "President Trump called the House healthcare bill, 'mean.' The @SenateGOP came out with their plan today. It's not mean. It's meaner." Hours after text of the bill was released, at least four Republican senators announced they would not vote for it as written, enough to block it in that chamber. And also just after the text was released, Cuomo also announced a series of panels about the plan, including a 6 p.m. June 26 panel at the Hudson Opera House, which now calls itself Hudson Hall, at 327 Warren Street. Read the full story in Capitol Confidential.

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