By JAKE ZUCKERMAN
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Rev. Janice Hill didn’t go in with a game plan. It was almost impulse when she decided to show U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., a picture of her cancer-stricken daughter.
“She met with us, and I had no idea of what I was going to do, and all of a sudden, I find myself standing there showing her a picture of my daughter and telling her I wanted her to see a face,” Hill said. “I wanted her to see these are real people who could die because of this no health care bill, or health, no care bill — there’s no care in it.”
After taking a bus with other citizens to Washington D.C. for West Virginia Day, the Parkersburg resident and reverend of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), along with the other West Virginians who bused in as well, snagged a meeting with Capito in an effort to convince her to vote against the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, the Senate’s rewrite of the House-passed American Health Care Act.
Capito announced her opposition to the bill in a news release Tuesday.
Doctors diagnosed Hill’s daughter, Amy, with neuroendocrine small cell carcinoma, a form of cancer, four years ago on July 4. Hill showed Capito photos of Amy before, during and after treatment, trying to talk her into a critical ‘no’ vote given the Republican party’s narrow Senate majority.
Amy, who requested through her mother her last name be withheld from this report for privacy concerns, faced health care costs of more than $1.2 million within the first seven months of treatment. Hill said protections under the Affordable Care Act, such as bans on insurers placing lifetime or yearly limits on how much they spend on patients’ essential health benefits saved her daughter’s life.
“She would not be alive today if it wasn’t for the ACA,” Hill said to Capito in the video. “West Virginia needs you so desperately to stand up against this immoral bill.”
Hill isn’t sure if the anecdote had an impact on Capito’s vote, but said it seemed to have drawn her attention at the time.
Hill attended Monday’s protest outside Capito’s office in Charleston, offering a fiery telling of her daughter’s story before the crowd.
The Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the new health care proposal Monday, showing 15 million people would lose insurance coverage next year, and 22 million by 2026 under the Senate plan. With a two-seat majority in the Senate, Republicans can afford to lose only two votes; several Senators have already announced opposition to the bill. Late Tuesday afternoon, Senate leadership announced it would delay the vote on the bill until after the July 4 recess, in light of the defections. Capito announced her opposition just hours afterward.
The CBO analysis shows the bill will cut $722 billion in federal funding from Medicaid, mostly from the reduction and termination of enhanced federal funding matches, and the switch to a per-capita-based cap on Medicaid payments.
The bill allows states to opt out of requirements through waivers to cap spending annually and for all plans to cover certain essential health benefits.
Since the release of the CBO score, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who has already announced his opposition to the bill, solidified his stance against it in a conference call Tuesday with reporters and said the Senate should vote it down and get to work repairing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Before Capito’s announcement, when asked if she had any last minute advice for Capito, Hill’s response was simple — vote it down.
“Don’t try to put this bill up as a health care bill,” she said. “It is a way to give lots and lots of money to people who have lots and lots of money, and I ask you, how much is enough on literally the graves of people? How much money is enough for you, and the wealthiest of the wealthy to get?”
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