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Manchin, Capito hear concerns about GOP health care bill

Staff report

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG, W.Va.  — A group of West Virginians concerned with the health care legislation from congressional Republicans met Tuesday with U.S. senators from the state.

A group of residents from West Virginia is shown meeting Tuesday with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., over concerns with the Republican health care legislation and repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The group also met with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
(Submitted photo)

Among those in the group was Pastor Janice Hill of the First Christian Church on Washington Avenue in Parkersburg, which is affiliated with the Disciples of Christ.

Hill said she represented a diverse collection of residents, including senior citizens, veterans, business owners and employees who can’t afford insurance or health care, people on Medicaid and her daughter who has a rare form of cancer.

“I went representing a whole myriad of people,” she said.

The concern is the changes anticipated to the Affordable Care Act adopted under President Obama, she said. While it was not perfect, the Affordable Care Act was a beginning from which to start, Hill said.

The House has adopted legislation of which provisions include no longer requiring people to buy insurance through marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act and elimination of the tax penalty for failing to have health insurance coverage, a major component of the Affordable Care Act.

The bill prohibits insurance companies from cutting off or charging more for pre-existing conditions as long as the insurance doesn’t lapse. If coverage lapses of more than two months, companies can charge people a 30 percent penalty for a year.

It eliminates income-based tax credits and subsidies and replaces them with tax credits based on age of $2,000 a year for people in their 20s to $4,000 a year for those older than 60.

The Medicaid expansion is rolled back starting in 2019 and changes Medicaid from an entitlement program to a grant program.

Select Republican members of the Senate also are working on health care legislation, but have kept it secret. They may unveil a draft health care bill today.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., told the group she was distressed that she had yet to see the Senate plan, Hill said.

The group also met with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who with Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., held a press conference on Wednesday when they said the elimination of the Medicaid expansion will be disastrous upon combating the opioid epidemic, among other issues.

“West Virginians are making sure that their voices are heard and I thank everyone in our state who reaches out to me on this critical issue – through meetings in the state, phone calls, emails, letters, and even trips to Washington,”Manchin said.

Manchin said the House bill will provide tax cuts for the wealthy of $661 billion and cut health care services “for our country’s most vulnerable.”

“The House bill will cut $834 billion from Medicaid and will significantly reduce the critical subsidies that almost 30,000 West Virginians count on. It will result in 122,500 West Virginians losing their health care coverage and reduce health care access for thousands more,” Manchin said. “This is a bad bill for West Virginia, and it was made worse because in the rush to pass it, House leadership skipped the hard work of writing our laws and put politics ahead of policy.”

Also in the group was Rodney Wilson, who said he was a veteran of the U.S. Navy with pre-existing conditions, including late-stage emphysema and diabetes requiring expensive treatments.

“If my wife loses her job, both of us will lose insurance and no one will cover us because of our pre-existing conditions if those protections are taken away,”Wilson said.

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