Capito, McKinley vote to overturn health care reform

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's two Republican U.S. representatives voted with GOP colleagues Wednesday to overturn federal health care reform.

Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley helped the Republican-led House pass the repeal 245-189. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., voted against the repeal.

The vote, which was mostly along party lines, was a symbolic one meant to fulfill Republican campaign promises. The Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate has vowed to block repeal, and President Barack Obama has said he would veto it.

In a statement, Capito said the health care law passed last year was rushed through Congress.

"As a result, the healthcare law is laden with job-destroying mandates, costly regulations and an unprecedented government intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship," she said.

Capito said she supports medical liability reform, allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, and promoting wellness and prevention. She also likes some of the health law's provisions, such as letting young adults stay on their parents' insurance and making insurers cover people with pre-existing conditions.

McKinley called the law unconstitutional and said it would cripple small businesses and senior citizens.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., vowed to fight against repeal in the Senate, saying Republicans voted "to pull the rug out from under the American people and re-open the door to insurance company abuses, without a serious plan to replace the important consumer protections they are taking away."

"Instead of trying to fix our economy and create much-needed jobs, Republicans are rushing to strip important -- and potentially life-saving -- consumer protections away from every single American," Rockefeller said in a statement. "I will never support that plan here in the Senate."

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., believes the health care law needs "major surgery to get rid of the bad parts," like cumbersome tax-reporting requirements for businesses, spokeswoman Emily Bittner said.

"The good parts of the bill -- like requiring coverage for pre-existing conditions and allowing adult children to remain on their parents' coverage -- should be kept," Bittner said.

An estimated 32 million Americans would lose health coverage if the reform law were overturned.

At a state Capitol press conference, supporters of health care reform said a repeal would hurt West Virginia businesses and families. They included representatives of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, the West Virginia AFL-CIO, and West Virginia Citizen Action Group.

Repealing the health law would allow insurance companies to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions and restrict sick kids' coverage, said Perry Bryant of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

Last year, the law made insurance companies cover these children. Beginning in 2014, insurers must cover all people with pre-existing conditions.

The groups also said that if Congress repeals the health law:

  • More than 6,000 small businesses in West Virginia would lose tax credits to help pay for employees' health care.
  • More than 370,000 West Virginia senior citizens on Medicare would have to pay for annual checkups and preventive care such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
  • Nearly 7,000 young adults in West Virginia could lose insurance they have through a parent.
  • The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repeal would cost $230 billion, Bryant said.

    Two Democratic state lawmakers also spoke against repealing the health care law: Sen. Dan Foster of Kanawha County and Senate Health and Human Resources Chairman Ron Stollings of Boone County. Both are doctors.

    "As a physician, I'm aware of the importance of insurance to an individual's health," Foster said. "This bill is not perfect, but it makes a huge dent in getting us where we need to go."

    Reach Alison Knezevich at or 304-348-1240.