The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

February 22, 2014

Manchin clarifies comment made at forum after backlash

CHARLESTON — A rash of political backlash ensued Friday following the viral dissemination of a quote pulled from The Register Herald’s coverage of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s recent visit to Raleigh County.

Thursday’s newspaper featured coverage of Manchin’s town-hall discussion Wednesday at the Raleigh County Courthouse, where he discussed an array of topics ranging from a potential minimum wage increase to issues surrounding  the Affordable Care Act rollout.

As part of Wednesday’s coverage, The Register-Herald quoted Manchin stating, “I will vote tomorrow to repeal (the ACA), but I want to fix the problems in it.”

Manchin’s statement was seized by numerous conservative news sources as a point of controversy. Most notably, the article link was posted on The Drudge Report, a news aggregation website run by Matt Drudge, an American political commentator known for disseminating breaking news of a political nature.

Manchin’s staff contacted The Register-Herald Friday to clarify Manchin’s position on the federal health care act, which Manchin believed was misconstrued.

“I have never supported repealing the Affordable Care Act because I came to Washington to find solutions to our country’s problems,” Manchin said in a statement. “We cannot go back to the days when millions of Americans were uninsured and nearly 20 percent of our GDP was spent on health care, while only being ranked 43rd in the world in health and wellness outcomes.”

Manchin, who most notably worked to repeal the law’s 1099 provision, which would have required small businesses and the like to file a tax form for any transactions greater than $600, has also vocally opposed the “individual mandate” portion of the law. However, he has stated that he does support many aspects of the ACA, including pre-existing condition coverage and the provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ plan until age 26.

“The Affordable Care Act does some things well, like expanding access to preventative care, providing access to those with pre-existing conditions, and closing the Medicare Part D prescription drug donut hole, but the law has many flaws,” Manchin said in the statement.

“That is why I have supported legislation to delay the individual mandate penalty for a year, define a full-time work week at 40 hours instead of 30, grandfather in existing plans that Americans are happy with, repeal the burdensome 1099 requirements on small businesses and fix a technical error that unduly harmed volunteer firefighters.

“We should be working together to identify which parts of the law are broken and need to be fixed. We may learn that some parts of the law can’t be repaired, and we should eliminate those parts entirely. I wasn’t here when this bill passed, and the easiest thing I could do as a senator is to vote no on everything, but the people of West Virginia sent me here to solve problems, and I will continue to work to solve the problems in the health care bill.”

— E-mail: bunderwood@register-herald.com

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