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Speaking up: Capito’s stance on health bill pleases Eastern Panhandle crowd

By DANYEL VANREENEN

The Journal

MARTINSBURG — Two local political groups appealed to Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito for support against the newest national effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and attendees were rewarded with a mid-rally announcement from the senator’s representatives declaring she would not support the newest effort to repeal the healthcare bill without a replacement.

Residents from the Eastern Panhandle region gathered in front of Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s office on Foxcroft Avenue in Martinsburg on Tuesday to discourage Capito from supporting the newest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act passed during the Obama administration.
(Photo by Danyel VanReenan)

Jefferson County Vigilance leaders Fern Bernstein-Miller and Bob Miller and Women’s March on Washington of the Eastern Panhandle outreach captain Susan Pipes, organized the gathering in front of Capito’s office on Foxcroft Avenue in Martinsburg on Tuesday to discourage the senator from supporting the latest effort from Washington to repeal the Obama era Affordable Care Act.

Gathering with signs on the lawn outside of the office building, Miller said group leaders had a very good discussion with Capito’s Martinsburg representatives. The meeting gave Pipes, Miller and Bernstein-Miller the opportunity to discuss their concerns with the newest effort to repeal the ACA.

“Health care is an all consuming issue,” Miller said. “It’s literally life and death for many people.”

According to Pipes and Bernstein-Miller, 122,000 West Virginians would lose health care if the ACA was repealed without replacement, and 18 million people nation wide would be left without coverage.

Kathleen Stotler, VA liaison and caseworker at Capito’s Martinsburg office, addressed the crowd in front of the office and read an announcement from the Senator.

“As I have said before, I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” Capito said in the statement. “For months, I have expressed reservations about the direction of the bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. I have serious concerns about how we continue to provide affordable care to those who have benefited from West Virginia’s decision to expand Medicaid, especially in light of the growing opioid crisis. All of the Senate health care discussion drafts have failed to address these concerns adequately. My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”

Local group leaders thanked Capito and her Martinsburg office for standing with their concerns. According to Pipes, the Martinsburg office has always been welcoming and has listened to the concerns of local organizations.

“(Capito’s announcement) is a great victory for average West Virginians and working West Virginians,” said Martinsburg resident Stewart Acuff.

Acuff said healthcare is important to all West Virginians — especially for the old, the disabled and children. He said he is proud Capito will stand against actions to repeal the ACA without a suitable replacement in place.

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