Capito hears health care concerns during campaign

WHEELING – Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., heard multiple concerns about Obamacare during her Senate campaign tour through the city Wednesday.

In meeting with physicians and nurses at Wheeling Hospital, as well as during a conference with business and government officials at the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce office, Capito tried to answer question after question about President Barack Obama’s health care package.

“I voted against it, but it is coming,” she said at the hospital. “When this hits, do you have enough physicians? Do you have enough nurses?”

Dr. Angelo Georges, chief medical officer at the hospital, said nursing positions are already hard to fill, but the challenges presented by Obamacare could exacerbate the problem.

“I am not optimistic that it is going to improve anyone’s lives or health care,” Georges said.

Capito, who has represented West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District since her 2000 election, recently announced plans to run for the seat that Democrat Jay Rockefeller will vacate in the 2014 elections.

During her time at the hospital, Capito referenced the long-standing political rivalry between her father, former Gov. Arch Moore, and Rockefeller, as the two men squared off in multiple statewide elections in the 1970s and 1980s.

“When I told my dad I was going to run against Jay Rockefeller, he said, ‘Let’s go,”‘ Capito said.

After Capito announced her intentions to run against him, Rockefeller announced that he would not seek re-election to the seat he has held since being elected in 1984. There are several Democrats considered to be possible replacements for Rockefeller.

“I think there is a lack of faith in Washington,” Capito told the doctors and nurses. “I am confident we can solve this problem.”

Capito, traveling with Wheeling Mayor Andy McKenzie, then made her way to the downtown chamber office, where she immediately faced more questions regarding Obamacare.

“We are just going to have to see how it unfolds and go from there,” she said, again emphasizing that she voted against the program.

Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron asked Capito about the federal Community Development Block Grant program, noting that the city’s annual share of this funding has dropped from about $1.5 to about $1.1 million over the past few years. Capito said she believe the CDBG program is worthy of funding, and said she will work to keep it in place.

Capito asked Fire Chief Larry Helms how his department is doing. He replied that officials are doing the best they can with limitations on funding.

The congresswoman also denounced Obama’s energy policy, particularly what she believes are targeted attacks on the coal industry.

“The president says he is for an all-of-the-above energy policy, but he really is not. He is not for fossil fuels,” she said.

Regarding West Virginia’s roads and bridges, Capito said the state still needs some federal help, despite the efforts of the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

“In Washington, they think we have every bridge we would ever need – and that they are all named Robert C. Byrd,” she said. “We still have needs here.”

Capito also emphasized that she is a proud Republican, but said she knows that compromise with Democrats is sometimes necessary to see that things get done.

“We may get to a bipartisan immigration bill,” she said. “We have 12 million undocumented folks. We need to fix it.”

“I am not against all foreign aid,” Capito added. “If children are starving in Africa, as the richest nation in the world, we should help them.”

Earlier in the day, Capito also toured Wheeling Park High School. She said she was impressed with the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center and the programs offered to students.

Ohio County Schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo, Assistant Superintendent Bernie Dolan and WPHS Principal Amy Minch greeted Capito, thanking her for visiting classrooms and speaking with students.