U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Representative Evan Jenkins (WV-3) says he has read the entire bill.  Now the Congressman who represents southern West Virginia is ready to dive into the details of what’s termed the American Care Act, the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare.

The first impression of Jenkins is the legislation addresses the most contentious parts of Obamacare voiced by the American people. Those same issues Congressional Republicans promised to tackle in last year’s election campaign.  Speaking on MetroNews Talkline, the Congressman said the biggest improvement for him is the bill grants more flexibility to consumers and puts power over coverage and care decisions back in the hands of the people.

“Repeal and replace, reform and fix, however you want to characterize it, this is about giving people the power to make insurance buying decisions and financial support for low-income people,” he said. “But to create a vibrant insurance marketplace out there.  Obamacare killed the private marketplace. People have health insurance, but they don’t have healthcare because they simply can’t afford it.”

Deep in the details of the replacement bill however, Jenkins finds problems he acknowledges need to be solved.   Chief among the concerns of Jenkins and other members of the West Virginia delegation are those on expanded Medicaid which appears to be in jeopardy as the measure is currently written.

“We’re going to get our enrollment numbers and see how many are in each of these categories like the blind, disabled, pregnant women and others Medicaid is designed to cover and make sure our most vulnerable, those that Medicaid is there for, will be there for the future.”  Jenkins explained.

Obamacare distributed finances to help defray the cost of premiums in a block grant style.  Jenkins said that made it a “one size fits all” plan which didn’t truly fit anywhere.  This legislation, according to the Congressman, seeks to shore up the plan.   He plans to listen before acting and keep the process transparent–something he said didn’t happen with Obamacare.

“There are a number of formulas in here relating to Medicaid and the per-capita spending and the tax credit,” Jenkins said. “I want to hear West Virginians.  I want to assess how each of these would impact our Medicaid program and those purchasing insurance.  I want to make sure competition is restored and people are taken care of.”

Jenkins said there needs to be a fundamental shift. Instead of requiring people to purchase insurance they don’t need, there should be more choices of coverages they do need, he said.

“What I want to do is create a jobs environment where people get a good paycheck and aren’t in poverty,” Jenkins explained to the radio audience. “I don’t want them to have to rely on Medicaid, they either go on employer sponsored insurance or through the tax credit opportunity buy insurance in the regular marketplace.”

Work on the bill is getting started this week in the House of Representatives and Congress is expected to consider more than 100 amendments to address concerns like those identified by Jenkins and his colleagues on Capitol Hill.

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