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Medicaid Expansion is Working

September 13, 2016

More People in West Virginia Have Insurance Thanks to Health Care Reform

For Immediate Release

Contact Ted Boettner

(Charleston, WV) Health care reform, and especially Medicaid expansion, continued to help reduce the number of West Virginians without health insurance in 2015.

Today’s release from the Census Bureau of the country’s official data on health insurance coverage showed that 108,000 West Virginians lacked health insurance in 2015, a decrease of 48,000 from 2014. With 94.0 percent of West Virginians now having health insurance, the state’s uninsured rate in 2015 was 6.0 percent, down from 8.6 percent in 2014, and 14.0 percent in 2013, before the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented.

States like West Virginia that have expanded Medicaid to include more people, together cover a higher share of people with insurance than states that did not expand Medicaid, and that gap is growing. Thanks to West Virginia’s decision to expand Medicaid to help more people who can’t afford private insurance, more people are getting the care they need to go to work, take care of their kids, and be healthy, productive members of their community.

Medicaid is a cornerstone of health care in this country for people who are struggling just to make ends meet, and since we expanded it to help more people, it’s stronger than ever in West Virginia.

“Today’s data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that West Virginia is a leader among states in reducing the number of our uninsured adults and children,” stated Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. “We can thank our state legislators and governor for doing what is smart for West Virginia – supporting Medicaid for more hard-working families. Medicaid is a win-win: more West Virginians get health insurance coverage and the state pulls in federal dollars that help grow our economy and create jobs.”

Besides providing affordable health care, Medicaid expansion in West Virginia also provides these benefits:

• Kids who receive care through Medicaid do better in school and become more productive adults. They miss fewer school days due to illness or injury and are likelier to finish high school, attend college, and graduate from college. And as adults, they earn more and have fewer emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

• Medicaid is cost-effective. Medicaid’s costs per beneficiary are far lower and have grown more slowly than private insurance.

• Medicaid expansion saves states money. The federal government pays the entire cost of expanding Medicaid to more struggling people through 2016, and no less than 90 percent thereafter. In states that have expanded Medicaid, hospitals are treating fewer uninsured patients and covering people with more expensive medical needs under the higher federal reimbursement rate. As a result, states are saving money.

• Medicaid has improved the health of millions of Americans. In Oregon, for example, people participating in Medicaid were more likely to receive preventive care, have a primary care doctor, and to receive a diagnosis of and treatment for common problems, like depression and diabetes. As a result, they were 40 percent less likely to have health problems in the last six months compared to people without health insurance.

• Medicaid expansion benefits a broad range of Americans. It has provided insurance to those who have traditionally been more likely to lack coverage, like racial and ethnic minorities, young adults, part-time workers, people with less education, and low-income families. It does all of this at the same time that it’s producing better health outcomes, saving some states money, and facilitating innovations in health care.