West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday that the American Health Care Act, as it stands, throws "every category" in his state under the bus, and called on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to allow him and other Democrats to help Republicans fix Obamacare rather than repealing it altogether.
"Mitch, why don't you work with us?" Manchin during an MSNBC "Morning Joe" interview. "I believe you can get to 60 [votes]. Don't throw the baby out. Don't talk about repeal, talk about fixing, making it better, helping people, holding them accountable and responsible. I'll work with you and other Democrats will too."
House Republicans only narrowly passed their version of the AHCA, by 217 votes, and McConnell is trying hard to get at least 50 votes on the measure, said Manchin.
McConnell told Reuters this week that he only wants to work with Republicans to get a healthcare bill passed through the Senate, and that he won't reach out to Democrats, because he thinks their differences are too wide.
Manchin said he thinks that approach is a mistake, and admitted he believes Democrats "made a grave mistake" when passing Obamacare in 2009 "when we had no bipartisan support."
"Only 60 Democrats passed the piece of legislation called the Affordable Care Act," Manchin said. "It split the United States of America, it split us politically. It just split us."
The AHCA, as it stands, is harmful to Americans and will prove damaging in West Virginia, said Manchin, as he has "not found a category that was left untouched, or a nook and cranny, or a creek, or any area where people live that haven't been affected by what [the House] is sending to us."
Manchin also commented he's never seen 'this kind of insensitivity" when it comes to the AHCA, but he also pointed out to columnist Mike Barnicle, when he commented that West Virginia is "afflicted" with "rural poverty and drug addiction" that he needs to understand his state.
"We have done the heavy lifting all our life," Manchin said. "We've got more military per capita. Our people fight and die for this country. They work in the mines. They make the steel. They do it all. They work in the factories, all the heavy work, and with that, they've got a lot of preexisting conditions."
However, he continued, West Virginia has an "older population that's given their all, and they're being thrown in peril with the AHCA. We have children who have challenges and a lot of opioid addiction."
The bill, as it stands, is "hurtful," Manchin said. "I'm just not going to stand back and let them attack the state of West Virginia, who has done more as much, as if not more, than any other state in the nation to help this great country."
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