Republicans vote to debate Affordable Care Act repeal | News

With 51 Republican votes, including a tie-breaker vote cast by Vice President Mike Pence, the Senate will now begin debating the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted in favor of moving forward with the debate. She promised West Virginians last week she would not vote for repeal without a plan in place.

“As this process advances on the Senate floor, I will continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of West Virginians,” Capito said in a release.

“I remain committed to reforming our health care system while also addressing the concerns I have voiced for months. I will continue to push for policies that result in affordable health care coverage for West Virginians, including those who are in the Medicaid population and those struggling with drug addiction.”

Protect Our Care Campaign Director Leslie Dach said only 12 percent of Americans support the repeal.

“Despite bipartisan opposition in the Senate and throughout the country, the Senate took their first health care repeal vote today,” Dach said. “Every nonpartisan analysis has shown that health care repeal means tens of millions lose insurance, premiums go up by double digits and patient protections for life threatening diseases get gutted. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans didn’t care.”

Dach accused Republicans of giving in to the extreme right wing and delivering a tax break for the wealthy and big corporations.

“Every member who promised to protect their constituents’ health care broke that promise today.”

She said senators still have a chance to stand up for health care by voting “no” on the final repeal.

“The question is whether they’ll listen to the experts and the clear wishes of the American people, or continue to ignore us all.”

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., also issued a release, chastising the 48 Senate Democrats, including Sen. Joe Manchin, who voted against debating the health care bill.

“Whether they want to acknowledge it or not, Obamacare is failing,” Jenkins said. “For all their talk about working across the aisle and with our president, we see now that when it comes time to act, they refuse to come to the table.”

After the vote, Manchin said, “Make no mistake; the vote today was a vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a plan to replace it. There is no plan for the West Virginians in addiction treatment covered under expanded Medicaid; no plan for the seniors whose health care costs would become unaffordable; and no plan for the miner with black lung who wouldn’t be able to get the care that they need because their rural clinic had to shut down. They effectively voted to throw the most vulnerable in West Virginia out into the cold.

“Worse, we still don’t even know what proposal Senator McConnell wants us to vote on. Forget reading the bill, we haven’t even seen the bill. This is not how we are supposed to do things, and it shuts out the people who elected us. I stand ready to work with any of my colleagues to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. I hope we’ll stop this partisan approach and do what West Virginians always expect us to do – work together to solve problems.”

In a release, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care said this vote could potentially sever the Medicaid lifeline for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians — more than 180,000 stand to lose coverage.

“Coverage for pre-existing conditions will be eliminated, and premiums for seniors will skyrocket,” the release said.

“West Virginia cannot afford to lose this important lifeline. We urge all of West Virginia’s representatives to work together to achieve a bipartisan solution for protecting Medicaid coverage for West Virginians.”

West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy Executive Director Ted Boettner said in a release, “This vote shows disregard for the well-being of West Virginians as well as their concerns about affordable and accessible health care, and maintaining Medicaid expansion.

“Senator Capito needs to stay true to her words and put West Virginians first and vote no on any bill that ends the Medicaid expansion, caps and drastically cuts Medicaid, raises premiums and deductibles, and fails to protect West Virginians with pre-existing conditions.”

— Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren

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