Sen. Joe Manchin Predicts Congress Won’t Repeal Obamacare

Photo by Craig Howell U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., addresses a group of local business and government leaders at the Millsop Community Center in Weirton.

WEIRTON — U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin discussed a variety of concerns, touching on everything from health care to immigration, during a town hall meeting in Weirton.

The event, held in the Weirton Room of the Millsop Community Center, included representatives of area businesses, schools, medical professionals, economic development groups and officials from several local municipal and county governments.

Manchin, D-W.Va., said he wants to see the nation succeed, and that sometimes means working across party lines on some issues, although he noted that sentiment isn’t shared by everyone in Washington, D.C.

Among those issues is the Affordable Care Act, for which Manchin said the Republican-controlled Congress is looking at multiple options to either modify or replace.

Manchin said he doesn’t see a full repeal of the health care law taking place, as more are realizing the type of devastation it would cause for both residents and health care providers, especially in the more rural areas of the nation.

“It’s proven to be more popular than they thought because it’s so entwined,” Manchin said.

Among those in attendance Thursday were Vince Deluzio and John Frankovitch, representing Weirton Medical Center, who noted they have been meeting with lawmakers, and are beginning to see a unification of health care providers working to show the impact of a repeal of the ACA.

“It would be catastrophic,” Deluzio said. “They have no comprehension.”

Manchin said, procedurally, government officials are starting to realize the need for bipartisan support for any kind of new health law if the ACA is repealed.

“You can throw it out with 51, but you can’t replace it without 60,” Manchin said, referring to the number of votes required in the Senate.

On the issue of immigration, Manchin agreed some action needs taken to provide safety and security for the nation, but disagreed with the executive order issued by President Donald Trump. He said he has spoken to the president about the possibility of another approach, which previously was passed by the Senate but blocked in the House.

The Border Security Act, Manchin explained, would have provided more in-depth screening for entry into the U.S., and followed a 10-year naturalization process for those who came here legally.

“If they committed a crime, they’re gone,” Manchin said, noting there also would have been penalties for businesses who hired illegal immigrants.

Concerns with drug addiction was raised by Patti Barnabei of Never Alone West Virginia, who noted there are not enough available treatment programs in the state. She said those which are in operation aren’t always available because of insurance requirements and cost.

Also discussed were issues focused on the nation’s youth, from which Bethany Mayor Pat Sutherland encouraged Manchin and others to get more involvement.

“They work hard, they study hard, but they need to see that leadership,” Sutherland said.

Others brought up the need for improved infrastructure in Hancock and Brooke counties, especially with the highway system, trade agreements and funding to assist with economic development programs in the region.

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