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Cantor favors health coverage for pre-existing conditions, but not as structured by federal health care law
Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Henrico chats with those attending a Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY CHELYEN DAVIS
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said he wants to ensure health coverage for pre-existing conditions, even as he favors repealing the federal health care law.
Cantor, R-7th, was speaking to the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce on Monday.
The day before, on Sunday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made a similar statement about repealing the federal law but keeping protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Cantor's comment came in answer to an audience member's question about coverage for pre-existing conditions.
"I support making sure insurance companies do not deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions," Cantor said. "That problem exists because there really isn't any competition in the small-group and individual health insurance market. But for those people now in a situation where we don't have that competition, we need to have that safety net."
Asked after his speech, Cantor clarified that he'd still seek to overturn the entire health care law. He would structure coverage for pre-existing conditions differently, he said, by requiring states to establish high-risk pools and to "adequately fund them."
Cantor was heading to Washington after the speech for Congress' return to session. But he didn't sound optimistic that much will get done.
Congress will break for Jewish holidays at the end of the month, he said, and then likely recess for the last month of the campaign season.
That leaves many issues looming--including the sequestration cuts that would take effect in January if Congress doesn't act.
Those cuts involve billions of dollars in federal spending, about half of which would come from defense programs. The cuts were put in place last year through a bipartisan deal to raise the debt ceiling while lawmakers fought over broader deficit-reduction measures.
Cantor, like many members of Congress, voted for the sequestration cuts "to stave off any other kind of calamity. It was never intended to be something that went into effect."
Cantor sounded pessimistic about the chances of Congress acting to stop the cuts, at least before the election.
He said the House has passed a bill to do so but the Senate has not, and that he'd be willing to return to session anytime the Senate had a viable proposal.
"Yeah, we're talking, everybody's talking," Cantor said after the speech.
But those talks don't appear to be going anywhere, he said.
'There's no willingness for the Senate to act," Cantor said.
Cantor's opponent in the November election, Democrat Wayne Powell, had protested the chamber's decision to invite Cantor to speak but not Powell.
Chamber officials said they invited Cantor because last year's redistricting gave the 7th district more territory around Fredericksburg, and that it was not a political event.
Powell campaign strategist Dave "Mudcat" Saunders attended the chamber event, taking notes.
"They told us it was a nonpolitical event and he said 'Obamacare' 27 times," Saunders said afterward.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028