“We will hold people harmless,” said newly elected congressman John Faso at an Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce speech in Kingston on Tuesday.
Faso was speaking about widespread anxiety over looming changes in the 2010 Affordable Care Act. “They talk about repeal and replace. I prefer reform,” Faso told an audience of 280 members and guests at Best Western Hotel.
“This is my Number One issue,” the Republican said during the question-and-answer period following his half-hour of impromptu remarks. “Our intent is not to have a gap” of ACA provisions like inclusion of preconditions and retention of coverage for people under 26.
While Faso expected administrative and legislative changes in the ACA this year, he predicted “a long glide path” of two to three years to allow insurance companies to adjust their rates. “It doesn’t turn on a dime,” he said
Faso, a former state assembly minority leader, said New York was in a unique position due to its nation-high expenditures for Medicaid (more than Texas and California combined). “The perception in Washington is that New York is a Medicaid hog,” he said. He noted that a few years ago the Obama administration fined the state some $8 billion for Medicaid irregularities.
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill of Kingston, chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee, said Faso’s comments on health care gave him “great relief.” Faso’s only reference to the incoming president was an oblique aside to uncertainty in Washington. “It’s hard to get a lot of definition in a 140-character Tweet,” he said to chuckles from the business audience.
Faso’s appearance was greeted by about 50 protestors holding placards at the entrance of the Best Western chanting health-care slogans. A similar protest took place at his Broadway Kingston office on Sunday.