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McKinley Talks Flood Insurance with the Chronicle

July 19, 2017
BY LAUREN MATTHEWS - Editor (lmatthews@wetzelchronicle.com) , Wetzel Chronicle

According to United States Congressman David McKinley (R-W.Va.), the climate in Washington, D.C. is not as dysfunctional as one might believe.

McKinley met with the Wetzel Chronicle on Wednesday, July 5 after he had held a roundtable discussion with constituents regarding reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Reforming the 2012 flood insurance bill is just one of several tasks ahead of McKinley and fellow lawmakers. McKinley speaks with optimism, in that these tasks will get accomplished, by Democrats and Republicans, working together.

Article Photos

Photo by Lauren Matthews
Congressman David McKinley says lawmakers, in Washington, D.C., have been very busy this year.

"I should've brought this book in," he said, when asked about the current climate in Washington, D.C.

"The book was called 'The Founding Conservative,' and it's an interesting book. I think the author's intent... he tries to point out that things weren't all peaches and cream. If we think it's been difficult now, we should go back to what it was like. They used to beat eachother with canes! There were fist fights, and sword fights. There has always been tension."

"I don't know how we will ever make it work so it's seamless, but let's make sure people understand that there is a lot more communication going on," McKinley said. noting that what we see portrayed on television news, might not exactly be what happened.

McKinley noted that much more has been accomplished than what the public is aware. One of the accomplishments is work toward healthcare reform.

"Do people think that Obamacare is working?" McKinley asked.

He noted, "I know it's helped a lot of people, no question about it, but when you have premiums and deductibles increasing the way they are, something is not working."

"Doctors are opting out of Medicare and Medicaid... there is something wrong with this program. It's not working very well."

McKinley noted that when the Affordable Healthcare Act was adopted, "It had such great promise."

"If I had been in Congress eight or nine years ago, I'd have to really think twice how I would've voted."

"Look at how they portrayed it. You get to keep your insurance. Your premiums will drop. You can keep your doctor, and 30 million people out there that don't have insurance... we will cover them too. Everyone will be covered."

"I spent 28 years on a hospital board, and we spent millions of dollars in uncompensated healthcare. For, all at once, someone to say we won't lose $7, $8, or $10 million dollars a year... My premiums will go down, and I'll keep my insurance? You've got my attention!"

"That's not what is happening," McKinley said. "It's collapsing."

"We don't have competition. Out of the 3,100-and-some counties, about 1,000 of the counties have one provider. Some have none. No one is offering coverage in communities. We know it is collapsing. What do we do about it?"

McKinley asked that people "be patient with us."

"The House of Representatives has passed a version that we think will lower premiums. We've sent it over to the Senate, and they are dealing with it. Hopefully they will work something out. Once it gets worked out, then it will go to a conference committee."

"Is it perfect? I don't know. If there is more information, let's work on it. We will have this process worked out."

"Under the healthcare now, 93 percent of people who get their healthcare is not through Obamacare," McKinley said. "It's seven percent, and those seven percent represent about 14 million people. The cost of... the insurance companies have said to us, and hospitals... they are saying the cost to provide health insurance to these individuals has been so much higher than what they were expecting that they are having to subsidize the exchanges... By subsidizing, our insurance in the private sector... The cost is shifting back to us, because we are paying more than what we should."

"We are seeing the dramatic effect this is having on our healthcare system," McKinley said.

McKinley said he wants to make sure the people on Medicaid expansion "will stay on it."

"There are almost 200,000 in West Virginia on that," he noted.

McKinley said lawmakers have rolled back "14 major regulations," many of which were passed in the last month of the Obama administration.

"Until this year, we had used that process only one time... It's called a Congressional Review Act."

McKinley said one specific regulation would have made approximately 85 or 87 percent of the coal in the country, unmineable.

"Essentially that would've been the end of the coal industry" he said.

"We took care of that," McKinley said of the regulation roll-back.

McKinley said the House has also passed Kate's Law, a bill that was created after Kate Steinle, a 32-year-old woman, was shot and killed by a man who was an illegal immigrant, who had already been deported five times and had seven felony convictions.

Kate's Law would increase penalties that would be imposed on criminal aliens convicted of illegal reentry.

McKinley also noted Congress' passing of the 21st Century Cures Act. This bill allows the reallocation and prioritizing of money in healthcare, "so we can address cancer, Alzheimers, and opioid abuse."

The House also has recently voted to erase certain regulations connected with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was believed by some to be burdensome on small businesses and financial institutions.

McKinley exclaimed that fellow lawmakers have been busy, and he's been in Washington, D.C. much more than usual.

"We've gone five to six weeks without being in our districts," he noted.

Of work in Congress, McKinley asked, "Could we do better?"

"We could," he said, "but we are working on it. We know there are a couple of things we have to take care of."

McKinley cited tax reform as being one of those points of interest. He also noted that the flood insurance legislation of 2012 expires this year, "and we have to take care of that."

McKinley said lawmakers also hope to have a budget passed.

"We are well into some things. People might say we are stumbling, but it is just the process."

Another of McKinley's goals is to express the importance of the coal industry to the president.

"He's very business-oriented," McKinley said. "He wanted to hear first-hand about the impact of the coal industry. What is happening with it, and can it rebound? What are some solutions?"

McKinley said coal is a huge part of the economy of the country.

"We can shutdown the coal mine, but understand there are consequences. There might be 200 men or women working that coal mine, but someone has to provide lubricant for conveyor belts... Someone has to rebuild the machine if the machine stops, or the motors that run the belt. Someone has to provide concrete."

If a mine closes, "What happens to the person processing for payroll? She's gone. Apartments are empty, and the school system has lost students..."

"It's not just 200 jobs; it's a community you are affecting."

McKinley believes folks in Washington are becoming more sensitive to the vitality of the coal industry.

"I stay focused on it," he said.

Also, McKinley reported, President Trump is becoming more sensitive to the opiod abuse problem.

"He wanted to know if it was as bad as statistics say."

McKinley said his answer was, "Absolutely."

McKinley stated that he believes education is the starting point on battling drug addiction and opiod crisis.

"I don't think people understand the impact if you get caught on drugs. It is very, very difficult to get the record expunged. There are jobs you cannot get if you have been convicted. I don't think kids understand that."

Also, "Reach kids at the youngest age. Bring people in to speak to them candidly. Find ways to impact them the ways they use... Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat... Let's get our younger kids educated."

Congressman McKinley hopes to meet with the new United States Surgeon General in the future. President Trump has nominated Dr. Jerome Adams for the position.

McKinley claimed he asked the previous surgeon general, Vivek H. Murthy, three times to visit West Virginia. However, Murphy never did grant McKinley's request. In another matter, another task ahead of McKinley is encouraging energy development in the Mountain State.

McKinley, when meeting with the Wetzel Chronicle on July 5, said he was meeting with United States Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, the following two days.

The congressman, Perry, and United States Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) visited Longview Power Plant in Maidsville. McKinley had remarked that the power plant is the most efficient power plant operating in America. The plant is three to four percent within providing the same emissions as a gas-fired power plant. McKinley and fellow lawmakers want to encourage the building of "Longview 2."

"We will overcome that three to four percent differential," he maintained.

McKinley and Perry also visited the National Energy Technology Laboratory, where researchers are studying how to buy clean coal technology and clean up emissions.

Yet McKinley was perhaps most excited about discussing, with Secretary Perry, the possible Appalachian Storage Hub, an ethane storage and distribution hub in the Marcellus and Utica development areas.

Congressman McKinley recently introduced legislation that would direct the Secretary of Energy and Secretary of Commerce to produce a study that would outline the economic benefits of such a hub.

"West Virginia has a tremendous amount of untapped resources and the legislation we introduced is an important step towards unleashing our economic potential. Let's make this project a priority so that America can reclaim the mantle of leadership in energy production on the world stage," said McKinley at the time he introduced the legislation.

McKinley noted to the Chronicle that such a storage unit would increase the value of the ethane product, and would bring jobs to the area, including downstream jobs.

"We've passed a bill on it twice. I've been working on it for three years. I've passed it out of the House twice, and now it is the third time. We now have the Senate on board. We are trying to figure out how we can implement the Appalachian Hub. Right now, there is the Henry Hub. That is what is stored and utilized in the gulf. What if we had another storage facility here? Companies, if they need to plug in to propane or ethane, it's right there in the pipe. Come in and open a valve, and connect. All the raw product they need is right here. We are going to try to explore that."

Covering a lot of ground, it's apparent a lot of work is ahead of McKinley. Yet he remains optimistic.

And despite being busy in Washington, McKinley was able to answer a question regarding how he spends his free time.

"I don't know if there is an answer to that," he began, but then added that he has been "cutting down trees." He spent seven hours, the previous weekend, "cutting up one tree."

"I have property that has trees that keep falling down, and they block the road. Then I can't access it to cut grass. So I come back on a weekend."

"I come home every weekend," he said. "I don't live in Washington; I work there."

"It's a process," he said of his work in Washington. "I've come to understand the process. It'll work its way through. There is always a chance to amend it. You have a chance to fix it."

 
 
 

 

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