NEW CUMBERLAND - If House Republicans are to vote to raise the nation's debt limit, they will be looking for something in return, Rep. David McKinley said - namely, a year-long delay in the implementation of the new national health care law to buy them more time to craft an acceptable alternative.
McKinley, R-W.Va., made his comments Tuesday during a town hall meeting in New Cumberland with about 30 constituents in attendance.
McKinley said the alternative health care plan being developed in the House would retain some provisions of the Affordable Care Act, such as prohibiting insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. However, it would also allow small companies to pool their resources to obtain coverage for their employees at lower costs - something the current law doesn't do.
Photo by Ian Hicks
Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., speaks Tuesday during a town hall meeting in New Cumberland.
"We know there was something wrong with the existing health care system. ... We can't go back to the old way," he said.
Although he said raising the debt limit does not necessarily increase spending, McKinley said he would not support doing so without a delay in implementing the health care law.
"They haven't worked out all the details yet. ... The House is ready to adopt an alternative plan," he said.
Regarding Friday's announcement of new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon dioxide emissions for new coal-fired power plants, McKinley said those rules effectively will prevent any new coal-fired plants from being built because the technology needed to comply with them doesn't exist.
"They admit it ... they will not deny it - they can't be achieved," McKinley said of the new standards.
American coal-fired power plants account for just 0.2 percent of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions, McKinley said.
"You're jeopardizing our American economy for two-tenths of 1 percent? It's not going to have the impact, folks. ... China and Japan are planning massive new uses for coal - but not America," he said.
McKinley also addressed issues related to the natural gas industry, noting it's important to balance responsible regulations protecting local infrastructure with allowing the industry to grow and benefit the region's economy. He acknowledged the disappointment last year when Royal Dutch Shell passed over locations in the Ohio Valley, including one in Hancock County, in favor of a site near Monaca, Pa., for a planned ethane cracker plant.
However, he said spin-off industries producing everything from flooring to clothing, tires and paint will locate "wherever there's water and roads," as a result.
"Watch and see what's going to happen in Monaca," he said. "If they put that cracker in, you're going to see job growth here."
Despite announcing the Pennsylvania site as its choice for the cracker in March 2012, Shell has yet to start construction on the plant.