News Articles

West Virginia policy experts share concerns about latest ACA repeal bill

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., joined by, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters as he pushes a last-ditch effort to uproot former President Barack Obama’s health care law, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

CHARLESTON — West Virginia policy experts fear the state and thousands of its residents could suffer if the latest measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is advanced.

School of Medicine hosts prenatal substance abuse and exposure roundtable

Huntington News

Wednesday, September 20, 2017 – 12:59

SPECIAL TO HNN PROVIDED BY MARSHALL UNIVERSITY

School of Medicine hosts prenatal substance abuse and exposure roundtable

The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine welcomed West Virginians for Affordable Health Care and the West Virginia Perinatal Partnership to its medical campus Friday, Sept. 15, for a roundtable discussion about prenatal substance abuse and exposure, particularly neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS.

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Future of Children’s Health Insurance Program remains uncertain

September 9, 2017
 

CRAIG HUDSON | Gazette-Mail
School nurse Janet Allio speaks with Susan George at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary on Friday.

Janet Allio, school nurse at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary, remembers wishing she could do more to help families who made too much for Medicaid, but couldn’t afford private insurance, before the Children’s Health Insurance Program began.

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Renate Pore: Getting down to bipartisan health care solutions, we can help

Charleston Gazette   September 7, 2017

More than 25 organizations representing thousands of West Virginians have written to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., urging her to work in a bipartisan manner to preserve health care for West Virginians.

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Roundtable Addresses Health Concerns of Kids Displaced by Drug Epidemic

 

By Kathryn Ghion, Monongalia and Preston County Reporter/Weekend Anchor
Roundtable Addresses Health Concerns of Kids Displaced by Drug Epidemic
 As the drug epidemic continues in West Virginia, physicians, educators, legislators and more are making sure children are not forgotten.

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Kat Stoll: US House budget could be catastrophic for W.Va. healthcare

In the midst of the debate over the Affordable Care Act, another battle is brewing in the U.S. Congress that could impact the health care coverage of the more than 600,000 West Virginians who rely on Medicaid. The proposed House Budget Resolution, which was passed by the House Budget Committee in July, could come up for a vote in September.

Kat Stoll: Next up, a budget plan with even deeper Medicaid cuts to aid the rich

 

Charleston Gazette-Mail

8/24/2017

 

 

 

In the midst of the debate over the Affordable Care Act, another battle is brewing in the U.S. Congress that could impact the health care coverage of the more than 600,000 West Virginians who rely on Medicaid. The proposed House Budget Resolution, which was passed by the House Budget Committee in July, could come up for a vote in September.

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Panelists Focus on Mental Health Services for Kids

Register Herald

By Wendy Holdren Register-Herald Reporter
Aug 16, 2017

LEWISBURG — During a children’s health panel discussion Tuesday, officials discussed the need for comprehensive health care, including more regular wellness visits and better access to mental health services.

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Paul Samuels, Chantal Centofanti-Fields: Manchin, Capito must vote down AHCA

Charleston Gazette-Mail

By Paul Samuels and Chantal Centofanti-Fields

 

Chantal Centofanti-Fields

West Virginia has been called “ground zero” of the opioid epidemic that is ripping across the nation. Every day, 144 Americans die from an opioid overdose. Here in West Virginia, 818 died in 2016 from drug overdoses, the highest death rate in the nation.

We see the damage that heroin and other drugs have inflicted across our communities in every corner of the state. There have been so many overdose deaths in West Virginia that medical examiners and funeral homes are overwhelmed. The state’s fund for indigent burials was depleted five months before the end of the fiscal year.

It is hard to imagine that it could get worse. But it could and it will, if the U.S. Senate’s proposed health repeal bill is enacted. The Senate version of the American Health Care Act would cripple our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic by ending the Medicaid expansion, cutting hundreds of billions of dollars in federal Medicaid funds and radically changing the structure of the program through federal funding caps.

These changes would be particularly devastating in West Virginia, which currently receives 78 percent of funding for the state’s Medicaid program from the federal government.

Based on a report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office about the House version of the bill, West Virginia would lose over $4 billion in Medicaid funding over the next decade. Early analysis indicates that the loss of funding could be even greater under the Senate’s plan.

Vital programming reliant on federal Medicaid dollars, including school-based community health clinics that are a lifeline in our rural communities, would likely be unable to continue. With nearly 30 percent of West Virginians receiving health coverage through Medicaid and CHIP, the loss of this funding would mean significant reductions in the number of people and the scope of services eligible for coverage.

In West Virginia, federal funds provided through Medicaid expansion offset $43 million in state behavioral-health program funding in 2015 alone.

 Quite simply, under expansion, more federal dollars are being used to pay for addiction treatment, thus reducing the burden on West Virginia’s already strained state budget. And those savings would be expected to continue even after our state’s share of cost increases modestly in years to come.

Not only are more West Virginians able to access life-saving addiction treatment, but the state also saves money that it is now able to reinvest in the well-being of our communities.

But the impact would extend beyond Medicaid coverage and funding. According to the CBO report on the House version of health care repeal, which is the basis for the Senate’s proposal, 23 million more Americans would be uninsured. Since West Virginia’s uninsured population dropped from 14 percent in 2013 to 6 percent in 2016 — the lowest it has ever been — we can expect to see the state’s uninsured rate shoot back up if the health bill is passed in its current form.

A recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reveals that 214,500 West Virginians with mental-health and substance-use disorders are covered through state exchanges and Medicaid expansion. Prior to the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that all insurers must cover mental-health and addiction treatment as part of their essential health benefits, many health plans excluded this coverage.

Under the version of the AHCA which the Senate is now considering, this coverage would be significantly weakened or altogether stripped away, taking us back to the time when insurers could discriminate against people based on their medical histories. This would hit West Virginians especially hard, as the state has the highest share of people with declinable pre-existing medical conditions in the country.

As we continue to witness the escalating devastation of the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, we simply cannot afford to strip addiction coverage from young people and adults who need prevention, treatment and recovery supports. We simply cannot afford to bear the full burden of the cost to combat this crisis on state budgets alone.

Sen. Capito and Sen. Manchin have an obligation to ensure that health reform includes provisions that expand access to addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services. They must vote no on the Senate version of the AHCA. The health of West Virginians and the economic well-being of the state depend on it.

Paul Samuels is president of the Legal Action Center, a national nonprofit organization with a mission to fight discrimination against people with addiction, HIV/AIDS and criminal records. Chantal Centofanti-Fields is executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

Deana Lucion: Don’t cut or cap Medicaid, a lifeline for so many

Charleston Gazette-Mail
By Deana Lucion
 
 I am 21 weeks pregnant and get prenatal care because of Medicaid, which provides health care to almost one-third of West Virginians. Now our senators and President Donald Trump, who I voted for, want to take away Medicaid even though they promised to protect it — and us.

The health care repeal passed by the House of Representatives will kick 14 million people off Medicaid. It also will change the way the program works, putting caps on federal funding, instead of paying for care according to how much we need and use.

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