MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia’s Republican U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito voted Tuesday for the Senate to go forward and debate legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
The measure passed 51-50 with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.
In a statement Tuesday shortly before the vote, Capito said she will make decisions that are “in the best interests of West Virginians.” She’s committed to reforming the health care system while addressing concerns about affordable health care coverage, including for those on Medicaid and people with drug addictions, she said.
Capito, a target of social media campaigns on both sides of the issue, was considered a key vote in advancing it to a floor debate on repealing the law, as well as proposed substitutes and amendments.
She opposed previous detailed proposals by the Senate’s Republican majority leadership to repeal and replace what was President Barack Obama’s signature program.
Capito said last week that she won’t vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement that meets the needs of the people in her state.
“I will continue to push for policies that result in affordable health care coverage for West Virginians, including those who are in the Medicaid population and those struggling with drug addiction,” she said Tuesday. She has repeatedly said recently that she “did not come to Washington to hurt people.”
West Virginia’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin voted Tuesday along with the chamber’s other minority Democrats against bringing the issue to the Senate floor. He has advocated fixing parts of the current program, including its commercial insurance provisions, but opposed Republican proposals that would push millions of Americans off Medicaid.
The proposals should go through the usual committee process where experts present information and testify, instead of simply taking up politically partisan proposals on the Senate floor, Manchin told reporters Monday. “It’s not the way to do it, not a major piece of policy such as this,” he said.
About 525,000 of West Virginia’s 1.8 million people are enrolled in Medicaid, the program for the poor, disabled and nursing home residents. About 175,000 with slightly higher incomes joined under the act’s federally funded expansion.
About 35,000 others got coverage through the act’s insurance exchange, which has included tax credits to offset premiums for those whose incomes qualify.