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Sen. Manchin Opposing Obamacare Repeal

A vital conservative Democratic vote, Sen. Joe Manchin opposes Obamacare repeal, saying GOP replacement efforts so far have been inadequate. (Office of Sen. Manchin)
A vital conservative Democratic vote, Sen. Joe Manchin opposes Obamacare repeal, saying GOP replacement efforts so far have been inadequate. (Office of Sen. Manchin)
February 24, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Sen. Joe Manchin is voicing strong objections to repealing the Affordable Care Act, saying so far, GOP replacement plans are not workable.

After meeting with health care advocates in Charleston, Manchin restated his long-standing position that Obamacare should be repaired, not replaced. And as a conservative Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Manchin is a vital vote.

Manchin is in favor of adjusting how the insurance exchanges work. But he is sharply critical of Republicans he said are rushing to repeal the ACA in a way that would only require 50 votes in the Senate.

"You talk about repealing it strictly to keep a political promise. You've told all your constituents, 'It's the worst thing in the world and we've got to do away with it.' I'm not going to be part of that,” Manchin said. "Let's sit down, work on changing what needs to be changed and repairing, and then see if you can get to 60 votes."

Before winning the White House, Republicans repeatedly voted to repeal the ACA, arguing that it was responsible for rising premiums and reduced choices. But many of those members of Congress are now facing anger from voters afraid of losing their health coverage.

According to a new report from the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, in the worst case scenario, up to 10 percent of West Virginians could lose their coverage. The report also estimated the state would lose more than 16,000 jobs and $9 billion from its Gross Domestic Product.

Sen. Manchin said West Virginia has benefited a great deal from the ACA - including from substance abuse treatment for more than 25,000. He said the proposed GOP replacement plans he’s seen so far come up short.

"And every one that we have seen so far basically reduces the service, and makes it much more expensive for people that never had it before and got it for the first time,” he said. "That means that more people would go without insurance. That's not acceptable."

State health care advocates will gather Saturday at 2:30 outside the Culture Center on the State Capitol grounds to press for answers about what will happen to the healthcare system in the state and around the nation.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV