Republican Health Bill Would Hit Rural West Virginians Hard
For Immediate Release Media Contact: Caitlin Cook, 304.720.8682(Charleston, WV) – The House Republican health bill would be particularly harmful to West Virginia's rural communities, according to a new report released today by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. With debate now underway in the Senate, Senators Capito and Manchin can prevent the bill's harmful cuts and other changes from ultimately becoming law.
Washington shouldn't make life harder for the people who live there," said Ted Boettner, Executive Director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy. "That means our Senators should reject any bill that takes coverage away from people, ends the Medicaid expansion, caps or cuts the program, makes insurance coverage unaffordable, or takes away protections for people with health conditions."
The House bill would effectively end the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Medicaid expansion, under which 76,900 rural West Virginians have gained coverage. Roughly 43 percent of West Virginians who have gained coverage under the expansion live in rural communities. The Medicaid expansion has also expanded access to substance use disorder treatment at a time when many of West Virginia's rural communities have been ravaged by the opioid crisis.
The bill also would dramatically cut and radically restructure the entire Medicaid program through a per capita cap or block grant, putting coverage for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children at risk across the state. In combination with ending expansion, the bill's per capita cap would shift $4 billion in costs to West Virginia over the next decade. Medicaid plays a particularly important role in West Virginia's rural communities, and these cuts would threaten access to care for rural West Virginians, including by harming rural hospitals.
In addition, the bill would replace the ACA's premium tax credit and cost-sharing protections with an inadequate tax credit that would make coverage unaffordable for many rural West Virginians. 41 percent of West Virginians who buy their coverage in the ACA marketplace are from rural communities. The House bill would raise total costs for State marketplace consumers by $6,125, on average.
The House bill also removes key protections that the ACA put in place nationwide to let people with pre-existing conditions get affordable coverage that provides the health services they need. These protections are especially critical to people in rural communities, who are more likely to have disabilities or die as a result of a chronic disease.
--30--The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is a public policy research organization that is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and statewide. The Center focuses on how policy decisions affect all West Virginians, especially low- and moderate-income families.