By Jonathan Easley - 02/21/14 10:50 AM EST
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Friday that he’d vote to repeal ObamaCare, as long as he could fix it at the same time.
“I will vote tomorrow to repeal [ObamaCare], but I want to fix the problems in it,” Manchin, a vocal critic of the healthcare law’s rollout, said at a town hall in Beckley, W.Va., according to the The Register-Herald.
“I have never supported repealing the Affordable Care Act because I came to Washington to find solutions to our country’s problems,” he said. “We cannot go back to the days when millions of Americans were uninsured and nearly twenty percent of our GDP was spent on healthcare, while only being ranked 43rd in the world in health and wellness outcomes.”
Still, Manchin said the law has “many flaws,” and that those parts that can’t be fixed and should be eliminated.
“We should be working together to identify which parts of the law are broken and need to be fixed,” he continued. “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.”
Manchin has in the past supported a one-year delay in ObamaCare's individual mandate, and warned that the law could cause a “complete meltdown” in the healthcare system if its problems aren’t fixed.
Red-state Democrats have had to walk a fine line in denouncing the troubled ObamaCare rollout as unacceptable, while maintaining support for the principles behind the president’s signature legislative achievement.
According to The Register-Herald, Manchin said both parties agree with some aspects of the law, such as coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and no lifetime caps, but he argued there are still areas where the law needs to be improved.
Republicans have vowed to make ObamaCare the primary issue in the 2014 election cycle, and have already begun hammering vulnerable Senate Democrats, such as Mary Landrieu (La.), Mark Pryor (Ark.), Kay Hagan (N.C.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Mark Begich (Alaska), for supporting the law.
In November, Manchin and Landrieu proposed a bill that would allow consumers to keep their pre-ObamaCare policies, to address Obama’s broken promise that if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it.
Hagan, Pryor and Warner are co-sponsors on the bill.
— This story was updated at 2:42 p.m.