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Gary Zuckett: 50 years after Arch Moore’s vote, what will Shelley do? (Gazette)

By By Gary Zuckett

Today, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito is poised to cast decisive votes on health care repeal. Her vote will come 52 years after her father, then-Representative Arch Moore, voted in favor of creating Medicaid & Medicare. Medicaid alone is a program that today serves roughly one in three West Virginians.

Over the last 52 years, Medicaid has saved countless lives, providing vital care for the elderly, the poor and the disabled. It also remains one of the most popular government programs in history, with strong majorities supporting it across party lines.

But many — though not all — Republicans in Senate are rush headlong to gut it. Sen. Capito should not be one of those senators. She should stand with the more than 500,000 West Virginians who count on Medicaid to get us the care we need to live the healthiest, most independent lives possible.

A vote to move forward on any form of health care repeal is a vote to start dismantling Medicaid. News reports may call the latest Senate plan “skinny” or a “compromise,” but the only thing that’s skinny is the health care it will lead to — it will be skin-and-bones health care, if even that. And the only thing that will be compromised is our health.

We know there’s nothing good for West Virginians in the latest bill because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has hidden its contents from us and our senators, preventing open debate.

Ultimately, this so-called compromise is just a doorway to another secretive process for trading away our health care behind closed doors, all so corporations and rich donors can get tax breaks off our health care. And that means slashing and capping Medicaid, which will spell doom for hundreds of thousands of us — deficits and closures for the hospitals our families rely on.

Sen. Capito should follow in her father’s footsteps, working with her colleagues from both parties to make sure each of us gets the health care we need. We elected her for that kind of leadership.

Sen. John McCain said it himself on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

“Let’s return to regular order,” McCain said. “We’ve been spinning our wheels on too many important issues because we keep trying to find a way to win without help from across the aisle.”

We know that Sen. Capito is under tremendous pressure to sell us out. We know she’ll suffer more big-money attack ads if she votes for us instead of the billionaire donors. But we don’t need another politician. We need a hero.

Our small and rural hospitals need a hero. People with disabilities who are living independent lives because of Medicaid need a hero. Parents who count on Medicaid for their children’s care need a hero. All of us who are struggling to make ends meet and survive in tough times need a hero.

We have this to say to Sen. Capito: Our lives are on the line. The choice is yours.

Will you protect the lives of West Virginians and one of the most beneficial achievements of your father Arch Moore, who voted for our health and not against it? Or will you cater to Sen. Mitch McConnell, billionaires looking for a tax handout and drug and insurance companies who want to rake in more profit at our expense?

The answer should be simple: Stand with us, save our care.

Gary Zuckett is executive director of WV Citizen Action Group.

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