2017-07-05 / News

West Virginia officials say proposed healthcare bill in U.S. Senate would hit state too hard

West Virginia’s senators and governor have said a proposed Senator healthcare bill, which would change the Affordable Care Act in effect now, would have heavy negative effects on West Virginia residents and should be rejected.

All three focused on how cuts to Medicaid under the act would hurt state residents who got healthcare coverage under Medicaid expansion.

Under the Affordable Care Act, residents of many states were able to qualify for Medicaid more easily. It’s estimated that 175,000 West Virginians benefited from the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

The Act also sets a minimum level of insurance coverage a private insurance company must provide to customers, including free basic screenings, well-child care, plus dental and vision screenings for children. Residents who buy private insurance through the Healthcare Exchange under the Act can qualify for tax credits to help them pay insurance premiums each month.

Proposed changes to the Act would remove coverage rules and change who can get tax credits to pay for insurance. The changes also remove many taxes that paid for assistance to lower income people to get insurance.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) made the following statement on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score of the Republican Healthcare bill last Monday, June 26.

“In early May, the House of Representatives passed a healthcare bill that President Trump said had no heart and now Senate Republicans have proposed a bill that has no soul.

“Republicans wrote this bill behind closed doors, without input from their constituents, Democrats and even from members of their own party. Just like the House repeal bill, this Republican healthcare legislation is a bad deal for West Virginians.

“According to the CBO score, 15 million fewer Americans will be insured just next year and 22 million by 2026. Medicaid will be cut by $772 billion in order to give a $563 billion tax break to our country’s wealthiest, including 11,000 of the wealthiest West Virginians without doing anything for the other 920,000 taxpayers.

“It also raises costs for seniors and threatens access to critical services for those with pre-existing conditions, including those who desperately need substance abuse treatment. I have said from the beginning that I want to be a partner in making healthcare more affordable and accessible for our state. I stand ready to work with anyone to do that, but this bill makes things worse not better, and I cannot support it.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) issued a press release on Tuesday, June 27, after the Senate delayed its vote on the Senate health care discussion draft:

“I came to Washington to make the lives of West Virginians better. Throughout this debate, I have said that I will only support a bill that provides access to affordable health care coverage for West Virginians, including those on Medicaid and those struggling with drug addiction.

I continue to believe we must repair what can be fixed, scrap what is not working, and create a better health care reality for West Virginians. At the same time, West Virginia has the largest Medicaid population in the country. I recognize that many West Virginians rely on health coverage and access to substance abuse treatment because of my state’s decision to expand coverage through Medicaid.

I have studied the draft legislation and CBO analysis to understand its impact on West Virginians. As drafted, this bill will not ensure access to affordable health care in West Virginia, does not do enough to combat the opioid epidemic that is devastating my state, cuts traditional Medicaid too deeply, and harms rural health care providers.

As drafted, the Senate health care bill is not the right fix for West Virginia, and I cannot support it. My concerns will need to be addressed going forward,” Capito said.

Governor Jim Justice wrote letters to U.S. senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin III, thanking them for protecting West Virginia's most vulnerable citizens from further cuts to Medicaid and other essential healthcare services.

In the letters, Justice wrote that it would be "beyond catastrophic" if the 175,000 West Virginians who benefit from Medicaid expansion lost access to affordable healthcare. Justice noted that any federal cuts will be compounded by the Legislature's $54 million cut to the state's Medicaid budget.

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"Got to pass it so we can

"Got to pass it so we can read it and know what's in it".....hmmm where have I heard that before.....Maybe ALL of Congress should have to have whatever health bill is passed BEFORE making the rest of the American Citizens obtain it.... NO EXEMPTIONS!!!...Just an observation