RealClearPolitics is reporting that “just five weeks away from a tougher Senate race than he expected against Republican John Raese,” West Virginia Governor Gov. Joe Manchin (D) is retreating from his support of the Affordable Care Act, and is now saying that he would join Republicans in repealing parts of the law — making him the first Democratic Senate candidate to endorse some part of the GOP’s health care ‘Pledge.’ From the RealClearPolitics interview:
“I believe in health care reform. I don’t believe in the way this bill was passed,” Manchin said Sunday afternoon. “Why they overreached, I don’t know.”
Pressed on his support for repeal, Manchin clarified that he favored “repealing the things that are bad in that bill.” He ticked off a list of reforms in the law that he supports and asserted there is broad agreement in both parties for many of them. “Can’t you keep that as a good base?” he said, adding, “It’s a great bill.” He emphasized that he’s not calling for wholesale repeal and just wants to roll back parts of it but said, “You do need to.”
But Manchin’s newfound opposition to parts of the law is peculiar, given his past support for the President’s reform efforts. In 2009, Manchin expressed concerns about what Medicaid expansion “would do to the budgets” but said he saw merits in the idea, since poor uninsured families and individuals often “end up using emergency rooms or only seek medical attention when they have costly, catastrophic medical needs.” “This week, [Obama will] say this is what I think America needs and this is what we’re going to fight for. And I’m behind that. I’m totally behind health care reform,” Manchin said that year.
During a March 17 panel on health care at the National Governors Association, Manchin reiterated his worries about the costs associated with expanding Medicaid, but stopped short of calling for repeal. Instead, he said the law should be given a chance to work and Congress should make adjustments if costs grow out of control. “I’m hoping that in four years time period that they’re saying we’re going to pay for everything and if this thing mushrooms out of control, they’re going to have to make some adjustments in that period of time,” he said. When TIME reporter Karen Tumulty asked the governors if they would vote for the health care bill, Manchin said that he would:
MANCHIN: I’d be for it. I think you’ve got to move the ball. Ted is exactly right. You have to move this ball forward right wrong or indifferent. I have never, since I’ve been in the legislative process and since I’ve been governor, I’ve never gotten a perfect bill. I’ve never gotten a bill exactly the way I’ve wanted it….Let’s try, let’s try to make this. Bring us all in. Let’s make it work.