Rep. John Faso isn’t backing down

Rep. John Faso isn’t backing down

Rep. John Faso on the state of the Faso-Collins ammendment
July 20, 2017

Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins proposed an amendment included in the House and Senate health care bills – now known as the Faso-Collins amendment – that would shift Medicaid costs for counties outside of New York City to the state. This week, the Senate failed to pass its version of the bill, and a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act seems unlikely. Although this vehicle for the New York-specific amendment has failed, Faso hasn’t given up on his mission to make the state pay for Medicaid.

C&S: How will you ensure that the provisions in the Faso-Collins amendment are enacted?

JF: Our amendment is vitally important for property taxpayers throughout New York state. If you add up the entire county property taxpayer burden in New York state, it is equal to or more than the entire amount of local share on Medicaid spent by local taxpayers in the 49 other states combined. New York is so completely out of line that it's critical that we pursue this. The biggest issues in upstate New York are lack of jobs and people fleeing because of high taxes. Literally, virtually every county in upstate New York is losing population every single year, and high tax burden is one of the reasons. This Medicaid burden is a 50-year-old mistake that started under (former Gov. Nelson) Rockefeller. So I'm going to work with my colleagues to find another approach or avenue or vehicle to attach this amendment to.

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C&S: Your proposed amendment is unpopular among some state officials, notably Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who proposed a “Faso-Collins tax” on local property taxes to offset the cost of the shift if the Senate bill were passed. Do you envision working with state officials or taking the federal route to enact the provisions of your amendment?

JF: I'm going the federal route because I'm a federal official and Gov. Cuomo has shown absolutely no desire to lower this tax burden on property taxpayers throughout New York state.

C&S: Have you discussed next steps with Rep. Collins, who co-sponsored this amendment?

JF: Yes. We're discussing it among a number of us (in Congress). Obviously the vehicle that was in the House and Senate through budget reconciliation is likely not going to be there.

C&S: Are you considering other initiatives to offset high property taxes in upstate New York, or do you believe shifting costs of Medicaid to the state is the most effective way to achieve this goal?

JF: Well, 49 other states have managed to run their Medicaid programs without putting this undue burden on homeowners. Unless Albany is forced to do it, they won't change. I devised this approach after reading the federal statute, and I realized that existing federal law authorizes this, so we can amend federal law to not allow it. This proposal gives the state two and a half years to implement the reform. It has plenty of fat within its own budget and within its own Medicaid budget to afford this without affecting genuine health care delivery in our state.

C&S: This month, the eighth Democratic candidate declared they will be challenging you in the 2018 election. Are you expecting a difficult re-election campaign?

JF: I'm not focused on the 2018 election. I work very hard when I'm in an election season to bring my case to the voters, and I ultimately trust the voters’ decision.

Grace Segers
is City & State’s digital reporter. She writes daily content on New York City and New York state politics.