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Rep. McKinley: Founders risked ‘life and limb’

By CARTER WALKER

Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Congressman David McKinley, R-W.Va., made his way around Marion County Tuesday, celebrating the Fourth of July while still facing policy questions from his constituents.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., visited Marion County Fourth of July celebrations.
(Photo by Carter Walker)

McKinley gave a speech at Pricketts Fort State Park, where he discussed the significance of what the founding fathers did on Independence Day and how it compares to the issues facing the county now.

“They really did risk their life and limb. They didn’t know what was going to happen,” McKinley said.

He said that while while fighting in Washington may seem bad today, in the 1700s arguments were often settled with swords or a smack of the cane, and that now it is only tongues.

Later in the day, McKinley was at Palatine Park to present a certificate of achievement to the Marion County Commission for its design of the park.

In his speech, McKinley thanked the commission for its undertaking and said it was a positive step for the community.

“It was an honor to receive the plaque and to note that other officials around the state are looking at this community, Marion County Commission President Ernie VanGilder said, adding that Peabody Coal Co., Murray Energy and other coal mines contributed to the project.

“We’re not done yet,” VanGilder said.

During the presentation of the plaque, a group of demonstrators held up signs asking McKinley to explain his “yes” vote for the American Health Care Act.

“About 40,000 West Virginians are going to lose health care based on this repeal effort,” Ace Parsi, one of the demonstrators, said. Parsi was referring to a study, “Coverage Losses Under the (Affordable Care Act) Repeal Bill for Congressional Districts in All States,” by the Center for American Progress.

“We met with (McKinley) at a round table in March, and he said that the lines in sand for him were Medicaid, pre-existing conditions and the opioid crisis. All those things were just thrown away with that bill,” Parsi said. “We want him to, as our representative, be there and explain his position and hear from his constituents. We’re really scared of losing a fundamental thing like health care.”

The group hopes that McKinley will hold a public town hall to explain his position and why he voted for the bill.

In an interview earlier in the day, McKinley said he voted for the new plan to “allow the process to continue.”

“The (Affordable Care Act) is collapsing around the country and has been for some time,” McKinley said, adding that there is a need to find coverage for those that do not have it, especially in counties with only one provider.

“There are some people that have been helped. I know that. It would be silly to say it hasn’t helped anybody,” McKinley said. “But as a result, what’s happened is people are paying a fine instead of getting insurance; we still have 25 million uninsured.”

McKinley said a requirement for his support for the bill was that those who acquired health coverage under the Medicaid expansion would keep their coverage and that there would not be funding cutbacks on Medicaid. He said that it irritates him when he hears the national media report that there will be funding cuts to Medicaid, because that is not the bill he said he voted for.

“I know in the bill we voted for that we’re increasing funding to Medicaid over the next 10 years by $380 billion,” McKinley said.

In an early March letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Republican Sen. Shelley Capito of West Virginia, along with other colleagues, urged that a hastily introduced replacement for the Affordable Care Act would result in a reduction in access to care for many family, especially those dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues. The letter said there needs to be a steady phase-in period to get Medicaid recipients onto the new funding structure.

In response to the letter, McKinley said that in the bill there is an additional $138 billion to subsidize the health-care industry, $15 billion of which is set aside specifically for opioid addiction.

“I think what (Capito) is going to be more comfortable with is a more specific dollar amount than $15 billion,” McKinley said. “I think what she’s talking about is $45 billion. If that’s the case, then fine; I’m OK with that. She has information that maybe perhaps we don’t have, so let’s work it out and get something passed so that the people that are paying these skyrocketing premiums and deductibles aren’t facing that anymore.”

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