March 06, 2019

Manchin Opposes Judicial Nominee For Role In 'Obamacare' Lawsuit | WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Before the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to end debate on President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., voiced his opposition to Chad Readler in light of his role in the ongoing lawsuit on the federal health care law.

“A vote for him — in my estimation — is a vote against every West Virginian and American with a pre-existing condition,” he said.

The Senate voted 53-45 to move the nomination forward; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted in favor of invoking cloture, while Manchin’s opposition extended to his vote. Every Republican senator backed the motion.

The court is in Cincinnati.

As acting assistant attorney general, Readler signed a June 8, 2018 brief keeping the U.S. Department of Justice from defending the health care law in a multi-state lawsuit by stating its individual mandate is unconstitutional. A federal judge in December ruled both the individual mandate and “Obamacare” as unconstitutional.

Trump directed the nomination to the Senate shortly after the June’s brief filing.

Twenty states, including West Virginia, are suing the federal government over the legal standing of “Obamacare,” arguing the individual mandate — the provision repealed in the 2017 tax law requiring people to purchase insurance — is now unconstitutional as is the entire statute. The legal action has been met with challenges from Democrats on the U.S. House of Representatives and more than a dozen states.

Manchin has led attempts to get the Senate Legal Counsel to defend the law, saying on multiple occasions around 800,000 West Virginians would be at risk of losing their insurance coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

“Because of Readler and the Department of Justice’s decision to abandon its responsibility, the court ruled against Americans with pre-existing conditions in December. This misguided and inhumane ruling with kick millions of Americans and tens of thousands of West Virginians of their health insurance,” the senator said.

Manchin called Readler the “chief architect” of the Justice Department’s decision not to defend the health care law.

“A vote for Mr. Readler is a vote against people with pre-existing conditions, and I hope my colleagues from the other side of the aisle will join me in voting against his confirmation,” he said. “This gentleman has shown that basically, it is not about the law, it’s not about the constitution; it’s about his politics and himself. not a man who should be sitting on the higher court.”

The Senate is expected to hold a final vote Wednesday on the nomination, with Democrats to oppose Readler. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said Tuesday she will vote against Readler because of the brief.

“Given Mr. Readler’s role in the government’s failure to defend provisions under current law that protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, I will oppose his confirmation to the bench,” she said.

An analyst with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation told MetroNews as many as 18 million people nationwide would be unable to purchase health insurance coverage again if December’s ruling is upheld. West Virginia was one of the biggest beneficiaries of “Obamacare” because of the 2014 Medicaid expansion; the state’s uninsured rate was 6.1 percent in 2017.


By:  Alex Thomas