On Thursday Senate Republicans unveiled their long awaited legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act. The bill, which was drafted in a secret session, is quite similar to the American Health Care Act, which narrowly passed the House a month ago. However, the two do differ in a few key ways: The Senate bill calls for federal insurance subsidies to be linked to income rather than age and also blocks federally subsidized health plans from covering abortions.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has touted the bill as an effective means of combating rising premiums and improving affordability for many Americans. The bill could come to a vote as early as next week.
However, some are less optimistic. There has been a massive backlash from Democrats, who decried the bill for its cuts to Medicaid. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York has led the charge, calling the bill “heartless” while pushing a series of procedural requests meant to prevent the Republicans from a quick vote.
And Democrats are not the only ones who oppose the bill. Republican Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee have all stated that they will not vote for the bill in its current form. Without their support, McConnell does not have the numbers to pass the bill.
Back in New York, much of the debate over the House bill has focused on the contentious Collins-Faso Amendment. The amendment, which was sponsored by Republican Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso, looks to shift $2.3 billion in Medicaid costs from counties to the state – and only in New York. The duo has claimed this shift will lower property taxes all over the state, providing a much needed financial break. The amendment contributed to a breakdown in relations between the state’s Republican members of congress and Gov., Andrew Cuomo, who has said the amendment will “devastate the New York health care system.”
On Thursday, a number of New York Republican members of Congress praised the inclusion of the Faso-Collins Amendment in the Senate bill.
Collins issued a statement, along with a number of state and local GOP lawmakers, touting the development, claiming it would provide the largest property tax reduction ever to Western New York.
“This was a long fought battle against the injustice in Albany and is a big victory for taxpayers,” Collins said.
Faso took to Twitter to praise the Senate for including his provision in the bill.
Rep. Tom Reed also came out strong on social media to support the Faso-Collins Amendment:
Similarly, Rep. Lee Zeldin addressed the House of Representatives Wednesday night:
“If this bill became law, you could eliminate Suffolk's $50 million annual property tax levy completely, eliminate Suffolk's $150 million structural deficit, and have $50 million left over for combating the heroin and opioid epidemic, improving infrastructure, public works programs, environmental preservation and coastal erosion programs, upgraded and improved sewering or for some other purpose that county residents deems necessary.”
The two New York Republicans who voted against the original House bill, Reps. Dan Donovan and John Katko, remained quiet. GOP Reps. Peter King, Elise Stefanik and Claudia Tenney also did not immediately post any response to the Senate bill.