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U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin speaks out on health care bill

By JOSELYN KING

The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va.  — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said the best way for America to help those with dire health needs is for the Senate to defeat the Graham-Cassidy health care reform bill, a measure that could come before members this week.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.
Manchin, D-W.Va., answered questions from the public submitted via social media during a Facebook town hall Monday night. Questions about America’s relationship with North Korea, standing for the American flag and the pending health care reform legislation were among those responded to by Manchin.

The Graham-Cassidy measure seeks to replace and repeal the Affordable Care Act enacted under the Obama administration.

“The Graham-Cassidy bill hurts every demographic in the state of West Virginia,”Manchin said. “I have not found one positive in the bill I thought would help this state. It would curb the amount of assistance we give to the most vulnerable … It’s a shame we’re down to the point where they are going to make another run at it.”

He said after a prior attempt at health care reform — the “Skinny Bill” — was defeated in the Senate, he and other senators thought there might be a real chance for bi-partisan legislation to be crafted.

And he thought progress was being made to create a more stable health care system, giving states more flexibility to implement and manage their own programs

The plan championed by Manchin would involve “reinsurance,” or allowing health care providers to join together as a pool to share risks.

In America, just 5 percent of the population has extreme health care issues, and they utilize 50 percent of health care dollars, he said. The figure is higher in West Virginia.

The 5 percent of the population with greater health care issues shouldn’t be put into insurance plans with the general population, but the government still needs to find a way to provide them the care they need, according to Manchin.

“This can come through reinsurance, so you’re not continuing to raise the premiums exorbitantly on those who are in healthier programs,” he said.

“There are ways to fix this. If they would just let us work together as Americans and quit making us fight as Democrats and Republicans. It makes no sense to me up here when I can see a pathway forward to fixing this.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “holds the cards” and sets the agenda on what the Senate votes this week, Manchin said.

He was asked whether he thought America might soon be at war with North Korea, and he said he was hopeful this wouldn’t happen.

Manchin believes strong economic sanctions imposed by America “that really, really hurt” North Korea should be effective. North Korea won’t be able to pay its bills for long, and other countries who “might want to help them” likely won’t do so for long without economic compensation, he said.

Manchin encourages “economic might over military might.”

And he said he thinks the war of insults between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is unhealthy to America.

“It is very alarming,” Manchin said. “I would encourage the president to have a little more discipline and be very cautious about this.

“We can send our diplomats out. Make them understand what are intentions are, and that we won’t take threats or actions from them. We are not taking one movement from them that would help the United States of America.”

Manchin also was asked if he favored “kneeling or standing” by professional football players in light of recent protests transpiring in the National Football League.

“I prefer to stand,” he said. “That’s the way I was taught. And when I was older, I realized all the sacrifices made by those serving our country.”

Manchin said those who disagree with the protests have the right to turn off their television and the NFL if they so wish.

“I prefer people standing,” he said.

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