GOP Sen.: An Opioid Treatment Carveout Alone Won’t Win My O’Care Repeal Vote

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Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), one of the GOPers who announced her opposition to the Senate Obamacare repeal bill yesterday after leadership delayed a vote on it, indicated Wednesday that a provision targeting opioid addiction in her state would not be enough to secure her support for the legislation.

During an interview on CNN’s “New Day,” co-host Chris Cuomo asked Capito if her concerns with the bill would be addressed if leaders offered her a carveout for opioid treatment in her state.

“No, they don’t. Because what happens if you just flood the money into treatment centers —and we welcome that, we’re asking for $45 billion for more opioid treatment —but you have to have the coverage, Chris, that goes along with it,” she replied. “You’re not going to access the treatment without the coverage, whether it’s through the exchanges or whether it’s Medicaid. You have to be able to have that coverage so that you can access the treatment that the extra dollars are going to be put in to provide. To me, it goes hand-in-hand.”

Earlier, Capito told Cuomo that Medicaid expansion helped those in her state struggling with opioid addiction. She did indicate that she could support a rollback of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, but said that the transition away from Medicaid in the Senate bill was too abrupt.

“I can see in my Medicaid expansion population the availability of treatment and how well it’s working, both how they’re accessing preventative care and their primary care doctors. I want to preserve that,” she said. “So I think Medicaid does preserve that. I’m not in opposition to making sure that those folks, if they move from Medicaid expansion into the market, that they have extremely good coverage like they do at Medicaid at an affordable price. That, I think, is the crux of what we have to make. If there is a transition it has to be seamless.”

The senator said that she promised West Virginia Medicaid recipients that she would not “drop you off a cliff.”

“And in my view the senate bill was too much of a cliff. So we’re working to try to close that gap to make sure that I’m satisfied,” she said.

Capito noted that President Donald Trump told Republican senators at a Tuesday afternoon meeting at the White House that the bill should include more funding.

“One of the main things he said was, ‘Put more money in it. Make it effective to the lower income, make it so it really works.’ And that jives with what I believe is one way to make this bill much more effective,” she told Cuomo.

Capito acknowledged the deep divides in her party and said that GOP senators “haven’t reached that critical point of compromise” yet.

“We’re edging towards a compromise. I don’t think we’re there yet,” she said.

She indicated that Republicans were looking to reach a new deal by Friday and said that if a deal isn’t reached by then, it might be time to work on a bipartisan solution.

“If for some reason it fails, I think we then— the floodgates would probably open to reach a bipartisan compromise. Really, Friday will be the most interesting day I think to see. I thought yesterday or today would be. Friday will be the most interesting day to see if we can reach that compromise,” she said on CNN.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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