US Senate ‘skinny repeal’ fails; Capito votes for bill, Manchin against

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate rejected early Friday morning legislation repealing parts of former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

The so-called “skinny repeal” of “Obamacare” would have repealed the individual mandate requiring people to have insurance or otherwise face a penalty. It would have also suspended a similar requirement on large employers for eight years.

Planned Parenthood would have been denied funding for a year. States would additionally have had the opportunity to apply for waivers on “Obamacare” regulations.

The Congressional Budget Office said Thursday the measure would have left an estimated 16 million people without insurance coverage by 2026 and resulted in a 20 percent increase in premiums by next year.

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine joined Democrats and independent senators in voting against the resolution. The final vote was 49-51. Murkowski and Collins had voiced opposition to other recent Republican efforts.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voted against the measure, saying it a statement afterward it was time for a solution from both parties.

“We gave millions of our neighbors the greatest wealth in healthcare and now we need to educate them on how to use it responsibly and efficiently,” he said. “I remain committed to working with all of my colleagues — Democrats and Republicans — to ensure all West Virginians and Americans have accessible and affordable healthcare.”

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted in favor of the bill. Capito had been the target of advertisements and campaigns against the multiple Republican efforts.

“The failure to pass legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare does not change the need to fix our broken health care system,” she said in a press release. “As we go forward, I stand ready to work with my colleagues on bipartisan solutions that result in affordable coverage and expanded options for West Virginians.”

Members of West Virginia Citizen Action Group gathered Thursday evening and early Friday morning in opposition to the “skinny repeal.”

In downtown Charleston, West Virginia Citizen Action Group was holding a 48-hour vigil outside of the United Bank Building where Capito’s office is located. A small group had been following the vote on social media, huddled under an instant canopy.

Group outreach coordinator Valerie Woody said she was surprised to see McCain — not Capito — be the deciding vote.

“Sen. Capito in fact voted for the bill despite the fact that it appeared it was going to fail,” she said. “We think Sen. Capito betrayed her constituents, and we intend to hold her accountable for that.”

Woody said she was pleased to see Manchin’s vote.

“We’re looking forward to working with him to find a solution that works for all Americans so we can preserve the right to health care as a human right,” she added.

Roger Banks, of Morgantown, said as someone with HIV, he has benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

“My medical care is very expensive and my medications are very expensive,” he said. “Without those mandates of the ACA, I wouldn’t be able to afford the premiums and I wouldn’t have access to my medications, and I certainly wouldn’t have access to my doctors.”

John Doyle, of Charleston, said the current system is not perfect; he believes a single-payer health care system seen in other countries is the better system.

“I have suffered from a chronic health problem since 1979,” he said. “I’ve lost jobs because of it and health insurance. My wife has Parkinson’s disease. I have to take Social Security early so I can take care of her.”

Doyle did note he was “relieved” by Friday’s final vote, but not with Capito’s decision.

“I am, as always, very disappointed in Sen. Capito,” he said.

President Donald Trump tweeted early Friday morning the 51 senators who voted against the legislation “let America down.”

“As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” he said.

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