On health care, Senator Shelley Moore Capito has consistently argued for continuing the Medicaid expansion instituted under Obamacare. As a result, political analysts usually put her on the list of Republican senators that would likely vote against a health care bill similar to the one passed by the House. Here, for example, is the senator on CNN in March:
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's comments on CNN's "New Day" Friday morning highlight the persistent divisions among conservatives over how to address the health law. She defended her state's expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act -- an especially divisive component of the health law among Republicans.
Asked by co-host Chris Cuomo if Medicaid expansion would be preserved in the GOP plan, Capito was terse: "It better be."
Yesterday, The Hill noted that Capito appears to have changed her stance:
Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) have proposed a seven-year phase-out of federal funding for the Medicaid expansion, beginning in 2020 and ending in 2027.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed a shorter, three-year phase-out that would end in 2023 at the Senate lunch on Tuesday.
The Hill sees Capito's shift as important:
Portman’s and Capito’s willingness to end the program is significant, in that it suggests centrists will not demand that the Medicaid expansion be permanent, and that Republicans may be able to find common ground on the critical issue if the additional federal funds are phased down more slowly.
VoxCare came to a similar conclusion:
. . . . this change might be one of the fig leaves that could help those Republican senators focused on Medicaid get on board with the bill. Several of those members, like Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, have started to come around, signaling an openness to, for example, eventually ending Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.
This is significant and it appears to be slipping, for the most part, under West Virginia media radar. I have yet to see anything in state media like MetroNews or the Charleston paper and my hunch is that Ogden papers, if they even mention it, will likely run it as an editorial or Myer column spinning it as a positive development. If Capito and other Republican moderates like Portman are willing to get on board, it certainly increases the likelihood that the Senate will pass some type of health care replacement for Obamacare.
It would be nice if Capito held a townhall so that someone could ask her directly about this. I doubt that she ever will -- unlike Senator Manchin and more like Representative McKinley, she doesn't do well when faced with difficult questions from an audience that isn't filled with Republicans, veterans, or 5th graders.
By the way, here is the most recent map of upcoming town halls from the Town Hall Project:
Update -- Apparently this story is something the Republicans don't want voters to know about
It's good to see additional online sources are starting to cover this story. From Rollcall:
Senate Moderates Say They Are Closer on Health Care
And Huffington Post notes how quickly they've brought those moderate Republicans (like Capito) into the fold:
Those ‘Moderate’ Senate Republicans Are Caving Fast On Obamacare Repeal
Perhaps more importantly, a number of sources are pointing to the secrecy surrounding their actions. Here's another article at the Huffington Post:
Senate Republicans Are Trying To Keep You In The Dark About Obamacare Repeal
And one in Vice News:
Republicans are making Trumpcare happen while no one is looking
I checked the website of Senator Capito (one of those Republican "moderates") to see what she was saying about all of this. Here's her weekly message on what she's been doing:
She doesn't mention anything about healthcare which certainly lends credence to the argument that Republicans are doing this as quickly and quietly as possible.