CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) says her vote on the Senate health care bill could change if people on Medicaid are still protected, but protesters in Charleston are urging her to vote against the plan completely.
Capito released a statement last week saying she would not support the bill in its current form. It was encouraging to the group West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, but the pressure for her to vote against it still remains clear.
“We want her to stay strong and vote no when she goes back to Washington next week,” said Renate Pore, chair of the Medicaid Coalition with WVAHC during a Wednesday afternoon rally at the State Capitol.
The rally was part of the Tax March movement. Several rallies are being held nationwide.
Pore said the Senate bill is nothing but a tax bill.
“This is not a health care bill,” she said. “The only reason we have it is to give tax cuts to a few very rich people. It would take billions out of the health care system to give tax cuts to the very rich and that’s wrong.”
The Senate plan would begin phasing out the Medicaid expansion by 2021. Deeper cuts to Medicaid are included in the plan compared to the bill passed by the House of Representatives.
Capito said she’s not interested in turning her back on West Virginians who depend on Medicaid.
“I want to see the Medicaid expanded population either remain in Medicaid at the option of the state or move into an insurance product like they are in Indiana and in Arkansas into the private market with subsidies to make sure that they can be covered,” she said on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Any changes to the Medicaid expansion would be a stretch, Capito said.
“The opioid money, the $45 billion that we’ve gotten a promise and secured, is terrific, but if people don’t have the coverage that they have with the Medicaid, that becomes a big obstacle for me,” she said.
According to the WVAHC, more than 175,000 West Virginians have health care through the Medicaid expansion.
Pore said the Senate should rework the bill before it heads to the floor for a vote.
“This bill should not pass. They should start over and really figure out how to fix the health care system in this country and it should be a bipartisan effort,” she said.
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) previously said he would vote against the plan.
No word on when a vote is expected in the Senate. Congress remains in recess through Monday.