Rep. Shelley Moore Capito  (R-W.Va.) is a leader in Congress on long term care matters, working as the co-chair of the Long Term Care Caucus, a forum for lawmakers to discuss legislative proposals and important issues affecting the elderly across the country.
Shelley Moore Capito
Capito, 57, who won re-election to a sixth term in the House of Representatives this past November, says her interest in long term care is both personal and professional.

“We all either have a relative or friend who in some way has to deal with a long-term illness or condition,” she says. “Our family is currently facing these challenges. I don’t think people truly appreciate the importance of long term care until they go through it with a loved one.

“The more we can educate people about the role long term care plays in health care, the better we can prepare future generations. My state of West Virginia has an aging population, so having effective and compassionate long term care facilities and providers is critical,” she says.

Capito is the daughter of former West Virginia Gov. Arch Moore and is considered a leading candidate to run for the Senate in 2012 against incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin.  She turned down a chance this past July to run against Manchin in a special election for the open seat created with the passing of legendary West Virginia lawmaker Robert Byrd. The focus now for Capito is certainly on the 112th Congress, which began work last month. While long term care issues will remain a priority, 

Capito notes there is a much more fundamental need for lawmakers to pay attention to what the people want.  

“The Congress must start listening to the American people. I think that was blatantly clear in the midterm elections,” she says.

To start down that road, Congress has to address the national debt, both on a year-to-year basis and the much larger overall debt, she stresses.

“Countless families have sat down at their dinner tables and made tough choices to pay off their debts and do without certain expenses; the Congress needs to do the same,” Capito says.  

To make her point, she notes that last summer House Republicans began the YouCut program, which is an opportunity for the public to vote on an area of the federal budget to cut.   

“There has been tremendous participation from the American people, and this program will continue in the new Congress,” Capito says.  

As for the health care reform law, she sees a need for major change. “The health care law should be repealed and replaced with measures that have strong bipartisan support. I think many supporters of this new law were shocked at the public’s rejection of the president’s health care law. You simply cannot overhaul that large of a component of our economy in a partisan manner. There were areas of bipartisan agreement such as reducing the burden on those with a pre-existing condition and those who cannot afford insurance because of life-time or annual caps,” she says.   

To make reform actually work, the Glen Dale, W. Va., native and mother of three and grandmother of one says medical liability reform must be made part of the solution.

“My home state of West Virginia was facing a crisis from 2001 to 2003, and the state legislature was able to come together and pass medical liability reform. It has worked well in West Virginia, but we need a national law,” she says.   

The new Congress has made a major committee assignment change for Capito, who will now chair the House Financial Services subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

As for the Long Term Care Caucus, Capito says the group needs new blood to help replace departed co-chair Earl Pomeroy, who lost his re-election bid in North Dakota.