WELCH, W.Va. – A town hall held in McDowell County over the weekend featuring Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., aired Monday on MSNBC .
The town hall, which was taped Sunday for “All In with Chris Hayes,” featured Sanders, coal miners, health care workers and state Delegate Ed Evans, D-McDowell. Evans said during the town hall he voted for Donald Trump in the presidential election.
The town hall was originally scheduled for Feb. 13 at the National Guard Armory in Welch. The event was cancelled because of a policy prohibiting political events happening at military facilities. Monday’s town hall was held at Mount View High School.
During the town hall, Sanders touched on multiple topics, including those relating to the coal industry. Trump made multiple promises as a presidential candidate to bring coal jobs back to the region.
Sanders said communities impacted by the changing energy sector should be areas of economic reinvestment, which he mentioned could start by improving infrastructure and adding broadband internet.
“We can do that,” Sanders said. “We are not a poor country.”
Sanders did mention his belief regarding global warming and how more must be done to improve the environment, but not without praising coal miners like forum participant Phillip Lucion.
“These guys are heroes,” Sanders said. “I grew up in a rent-controlled apartment house in Brooklyn, New York, and I will never forget the piles of coal. I don’t know if it came from here or where it came.”
“You kept my house warm. Thank you,” the senator said to Lucion.
Sanders also said Senate Republicans are holding back legislation to provide miners with health care and pension benefits.
The senator also touched on the American Health Care Act, the Republican-backed proposal to replace the 2010 health care law.
The event was taped prior to findings released Monday by the Congressional Budget Office detailing the effects of the bill. While the bill would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion if it became law, it would also increase the number of uninsured to 24 million people by 2026. An analysis from the White House projects 26 million would lose coverage by the same year.
What bothered Sanders the most about the Republican plan is, according to him, it would throw people off their insurance plans. He also said while “Obamacare” is not perfect, it is better than the alternative.
“Deductions have gone up, premiums have gone up too high,” Sanders said. “It is not a perfect piece of legislation. The goal should be to improve it, not simply throw it out.”
Sanders added if the health care law was repealed and replaced, it would cut Medicaid and provide less treatment options for those dealing with opioid addiction.