Medicare Proponent Retires

By | January 15, 2013


Sen. John D. Rockefeller’s announcement Friday that he would not seek a sixth term in 2014 will leave the poor, elderly and disabled without one of their strongest advocates on Capitol Hill.

Rockefeller played a leading role in 1997 in creating the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which serves nearly 8 million children nationwide, including 40,000 in his home state of West Virginia. He has been a fierce protector not only of CHIP, but also of the federal entitlement programs Medicare and Medicaid, which provide health care coverage to tens of millions of people.

Announcing his upcoming retirement Friday in West Virginia, Rockefeller said he was “proud to have my fingerprints all over” the 2010 health care law, which he said would help more than 300,000 West Virginians gain coverage.  “It isn’t really popular in West Virginia, but frankly that’s OK … because I know it’s good and I know it’s going to benefit West Virginia more than any other state,” he said. The law is expected to help as many as 30 million people nationwide get coverage.

Under the law, he said, insurers “will have to stop dumping people when they get sick, and stop spending more on fancy offices than on medical care.” He spoke with pride about a provision of the law which requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on medical care or provide rebates. “The insurance companies don’t like it, which makes me very proud,” he said.

John D. Rockefeller is the great-grandson of the industrialist with the same name. He first visited West Virginia in 1964 as a VISTA volunteer. He stayed and later served in the House of Delegates and served two terms as governor of West Virginia. In 1984, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.