Republican Rep. John Faso of New York is in the spotlight because his May 4 vote to replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act may represent a broken promise to a cancer survivor (video below).
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow reported on May 4 how the cancer survivor, Andrea Mitchell, spoke to Faso about her condition some time before the vote in a filmed conversation.
Mitchell told Faso that she had a brain tumor and a spinal condition. She recalled how she was kicked off her health insurance plan, which ruled she had a pre-existing condition.
"I need you as a human being to say, 'I promise that we will not take this away from you,'" Mitchell told Faso.
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"I promise," Faso said as he hugged Mitchell. "I promise."
In April, Mitchell went to a town hall hosted by Faso in Troy, New York, notes WAMC.
Mitchell asked Faso how he planned to vote:
Moving forward, how can we trust your promises? And will you vote with your constituents and protect us as you promised to save our health care with access and affordability, or continue to vote the party line?
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Faso replied that he wanted to keep parts of the ACA, including the ban on pre-existing conditions:
My approach is, with the ACA, keep what works, fix what doesn’t work. There are a lot of things in the ACA that work -- ban on pre-existing conditions and not allowing an insurer to throw someone off because of ... pre-existing conditions or not cover them, keeping kids on their plan till they’re 26.
Mitchell told Maddow that she felt "crushed" after Faso voted to replace the ACA with the AHCA.
"I honestly believed that I had talked to him, and I honestly believed his promise," Mitchell added.
After Maddow's show aired, Faso told WTEN on May 5: "The bill explicitly covers pre-existing conditions. There’s a provision in the bill called Guarantee Issue, which means that an insurer is required to issue a policy. This is already state law in New York state."
President Donald Trump gave "Face The Nation" a similar explanation on April 30: "Pre-existing conditions are in the bill."
PolitiFact notes that states can apply for waivers under the AHCA that allow health insurance companies to raise premiums on people because of their pre-existing health conditions. State waivers can also rid insurance plans of the currently required "essential health benefits."
The AHCA does include the MacArthur amendment, which says: "[N]othing in this Act shall be construed as permitting insurers to limit access to health coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions."
If people cannot afford their new high premiums, that will limit their access to health care, according to Timothy Jost, a Washington and Lee University School of Law emeritus professor.
Jost told PolitiFact: "Health status underwriting is literally charging a higher (possibly much, unaffordably, higher) premium to people with pre-existing conditions. Under the MacArthur amendment, they could not be refused coverage, but insurers could impose high enough premiums that coverage would be unaffordable."
PolitiFact concluded that Trump's statement, which is very similar to what Faso said, was "mostly false" since the AHCA undermines the ACA's protections for people who have pre-existing conditions.
Sources: MSNBC via YouTube, WAMC, PolitiFact, WTEN / Photo Credit: U.S. Congress/U.S. House Office of Photography/Wikimedia Commons