While admitting that passage of the Senate's version of healthcare legislation is far from certain, Congressman Tom Reed defended elements of that bill and some of the thinking behind it during his weekly conference call.
While the Republican represents the Southern Tier of Western New York in the House, questions about the Senate GOP leadership's health bill dominated Reed's weekly media conference.
He was asked about the Collins-Faso Amendment, first crafted in the house, that is also included in the Senate bill. That provision forbids New York State government from charging upstate counties to help cover the cost of Medicaid. Reed defended the provision as a means to offer property tax relief while shifting the financial burden toward the government that actually has a say in how Medicaid is spent.
"What we're simply doing is shifting back to Albany, what should in Albany to begin with, the full burden of the program that Governor Cuomo has the ability to design and reform," Reed said. "What we should be working on, rather than engaging in political warfare, is working on how we should redesign Medicaid to make it even more efficient, to make it more effective."
The Cuomo Administration contends that Medicaid cuts proposed in the Senate bill would be catastrophic to the most vulnerable New Yorkers, including the poor and elderly. The governor also suggests it would gut the funding needed to continue an ongoing effort against opioid addiction.
Democrats at the state and federal levels also blast the Senate bill as mean-spirited and one that would jeopardize the lives of many Americans. Reed dismissed criticism as "political rhetoric" and scare tactics. He also dismissed Senator Bernie Sanders' proposed single-payer system as too expensive, unsustainable and un-American.
"The American way is to allow people to have the flexibility and freedom to choose how they're going to live their life going forward," Reed said. "What we need to do is create a legislative framework that allows health insurance to be affordable, accessible and also to get to the issue of health care costs."
The congressman also dismissed claims by Democrats that the Senate bill is really a tax break for the upper one percent in disguise.
He admitted toward the start of his conference call that passage by the full Senate was far from certain. Not long after Reed's conference call ended, Senate leaders moved to delay a vote until after the Independence Day holiday.