In a video posted over the weekend, a key Republican senator who has helped scuttle previous Obamacare repeal votes signaled openness to voting for some kind of Obamacare replacement plan this week, though she seemed to hold firm on opposing repealing the Affordable Care Act with no replacement.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) is among the most closely-watched Republican senators heading into a highly uncertain week, where the long held GOP goal of Obamacare repeal hangs in the balance.
“I want to be clear that I am committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a health care system that provides access to affordable care to West Virginians,” Capito said. “That has always been my goal, and I am not giving up on it.”
Capito’s office did not respond to TPM’s inquiry on whether she plans to vote for the motion to proceed this week, but her statement suggests she is, in Capitol Hill lingo, “working to get to yes.”
The procedural motion to proceed vote is expected to come on Tuesday. If it succeeds, it would open a debate that could end in a vote on either a straight repeal of Obamacare or the GOP’s embattled replacement bill, both of which would lead to the loss of insurance coverage for tens of millions of people.
In the statement, Capito criticizes the Affordable Care Act, but acknowledges that thousands of people in her state have benefitted from the Medicaid expansion.
“We are not there yet” on hammering out a bill that addresses concerns regarding the elimination of the Medicaid expansion, she said. “While that work continues, rest assured I will continue to stand up for what is best for West Virginia.”
Capito, who this week is getting hammered by attack ads urging her to vote no on the Republican plan, represents a state that would be among the hardest hit by the Senate’s Obamacare replacement bill. A study by the Urban Institute found that West Virginia’s uninsured rate would spike more than any other if the bill becomes law. Revisions made to the bill over the past several weeks have largely been crafted to appeal to the Senate’s far-right wing, and do almost nothing to address the concerns of lawmakers like Capito who have vowed to defend their constituents’ Medicaid benefits.
Capito additionally says in the video that that “President Trump…assured me we are on the same page when it comes to repealing and replacing Obamacare.” But what page the president is on is anyone’s guess. Over the course of just a few days, Trump has taken wildly different positions on health care, alternately advocating for repeal-and-delay, the Senate’s replacement bill, and doing nothing and “letting Obamacare fail.”