WV coalition denounces repeal of ACA, Medicaid expansion

WV MetroNews

By in News | January 12, 2017 at 4:18PM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A West Virginia coalition of health care providers, administrators, advocacy groups, faith based organizations and individuals are putting the pressure on lawmakers to keep Obamacare in place, hours after the U.S. Senate took the first major step toward repealing it.

Members of the West Virginians for Affordable Health Care held a press conference Thursday afternoon in Charleston to express their concerns over the repeal.

Renate Pore, WVAHC interim executive director, said keeping the Affordable Care Act is better than eliminating it without a replacement.

“What we object to is how they’re going to replace it. Health care is a very complicated system. You repeal one piece, the whole thing kind of unravels,” Pore said.

Early Thursday morning, the U.S. Senate voted 51-48 for a GOP-backed budget measure that eliminates an ACA filibuster threat. The vote does not repeal the measure, but instead, sets the stage for Republicans to clear the first procedural hurdle toward the repeal. The bill will now go the the House of Representatives for a Friday vote.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voted to keep the ACA in place. Now, the WVAHC is urging U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) to do the same.

“Our message is please don’t do any harm,” Pore said. “Change it if you can make it better, but don’t do any harm.”

Thursday’s news conference included speakers who discussed their ACA coverage for pre-existing health conditions, routine checkups and tax credits for low income families.

“These patients are dental hygiene assistants, mechanics, waitresses, gas station attendants, sons and daughters of coal miners, all threaded together by their shared experience of ‘barely getting by,’” Dr. Jessica McColley, a Braxton County native and physician with Cabin Creek Health Systems, told the crowd. “They are only now sharing the reality of full access to care, with the threat of all care being ripped away.”

Pore said more people have been speaking out about their health issues because of the fear it will be eliminated.

“We try all the time to get people to come out and say ‘well, this is how it’s helping me.’ That’s very hard to do. People don’t want to come out and talk about their medical problems and the fact that we have some people who will do that now — it’s actually easier now because it’s under threat than before,” she said.

According to the WVAHC, nearly 210,000 West Virginians could be at risk of losing their health care coverage if the ACA is dismantled.