By EVAN BEVINS
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel
VIENNA, W.Va. — Recently in Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. David McKinley crossed paths with Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a former congressman himself.
“He said, ‘McKinley, buckle up for the next four years. You’re going to go on a ride like never before,’” McKinley said between meetings with Ohio Valley University faculty and students Tuesday.
The congressman from West Virginia’s 1st District is returning to the nation’s capital this week for President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday. McKinley said the federal government has been “stymied” the last eight years and he’s optimistic about the new administration.
One thing he’s sure of: It will be different.
“There are no sacred cows here,” he said.
McKinley said that while he expects to be able to work with Trump, there are also some issues on which they disagree, particularly how to proceed on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
“The president wants to eliminate it right now,” McKinley said. “And that’s fine, but that’s not practical.”
Congress recently passed a budget plan that included provisions authorizing a reconciliation bill on the ACA and avoiding a 60-vote majority requirement in the Senate. That, McKinley said, will allow legislators to cut the punitive actions — such as a fine for not having health insurance — from the law.
“We’re hoping to have something on the president’s desk by late February,”he said.
Without those provisions, the funding won’t be there to continue the system and changes will have to be made, requiring additional legislation, McKinley said. At the same time, it’s important to provide confidence that people won’t lose their health care coverage in the transition, he said.
“I know the Affordable Care Act, the Obamacare, has helped some people,”McKinley said.
But there are many others it has hurt, he said, giving the example of a woman who makes $15 an hour and must pay a $1,200-a-month premium for an insurance plan with a $12,000 deductible.
“So for all intents and purposes, she has no insurance,” McKinley said.
Certain features should be kept, including prohibitions against denying people coverage for pre-existing conditions and letting children to remain on their parents’ insurance until they turn 26, McKinley said. Others need to be added, like allowing insurance to be sold across state lines and increasing the availability of health savings accounts, he said.
“We’re hoping it’s going to be bipartisan,” McKinley said.
He believes Trump will help West Virginia when it comes to the coal industry, which was hit hard under President Barack Obama.
“We’re going to find ways of using coal. We cannot walk away from coal,”McKinley said. “We’ve got to do it in a very careful way. We’re not going to pollute the air. We’re not going to pollute the water.”
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