Manchin still pushing for ACA fixes as U.S. Senate nears replacement vote

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is still willing to work on fixes for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

But he said the U.S. Senate draft replacement plan for ACA released Thursday is not the way forward for health care in the U.S.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

“If they want to say, ‘Okay, Joe, we can’t pass this thing. Will you sit down and work with us?’ I’m there tonight with them and I’ll get six or seven or eight other very like-minded Democrats,” Manchin said on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

As currently written, Manchin said he cannot support what Senate Republicans have come up with in the Better Care Reconciliation Act in the time since the U.S. House passed its American Health Care Act.

The Senate plan would do the following:

– Repeal the individual mandate
– Phase out the Medicaid expansion beginning in 2021
– Make deeper cuts to Medicaid starting in 2025
– Create a new system of federal tax credits to help people buy insurance
– End most ACA taxes on corporations and the wealthy to pay for insurance subsidies
– Allow states to seek permission to reduce required coverage, also called “essential health benefits” which currently includes services like maternity care, emergency care and mental health treatment
– Change the age rating so people over the age of 65 pay as much as five times more for health insurance than younger people
– Allocate $2 billion to states in 2018 to address the opioid crisis

At least four conservative Republican U.S. senators said Thursday they would not support the draft plan.

“You’ve got Trumpcare being as toxic as Obamacare has been. It divided the country, now we’re going to keep it divided,” Manchin said of the proposal.

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) has said she is reviewing the draft proposal.

On Sunday afternoon, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is scheduled to lead a rally in Charleston urging GOP senators, like Capito, to vote against the U.S. Senate health care bill.

That rally starts at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Charleston Civic Center.

“The Republican plan is even worse than expected and, by far, the most harmful piece of legislation I have seen in my lifetime,” Sanders said in a statement.

“This bill has nothing to do with health care. It has everything to do with an enormous transfer of wealth from working people to the richest Americans.”

Sanders will also visit Pittsburgh, Pa. and Columbus, Oh. for similar rallies this weekend.

A vote on the health care bill in the U.S. Senate could come before the end of next week. Scoring from the Congressional Budget Office is due out earlier in the week.

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