The Cancer Action Network - the American Cancer Society's lobbying arm - is urging governors across the country, including West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, to voice concerns with the House-passed American health Care Act. They released a letter directed to all U.S. governors yesterday.
The group is particularly concerned with the legislation’s proposal to dramatically reduce funding to Medicaid – a move that would disproportionately affect poor states that expanded the program like West Virginia.
West Virginia also has the third highest rate of cancer in the nation – surpassed only by Kentucky and Mississippi. Cancer is a pre-existing condition under the bill and the new healthcare law could result in some cancer survivors being dropped from or refused healthcare coverage.
Specifically, the letter claims the funding proposed in the bill is “completely inadequate to meet the coverage needs of this population.”
The letter finally lists several recommendations for the governors to consider when talking with Congress about health policy reform, including urging them to protect Medicaid, to oppose waiving essential health benefits and to oppose the legislation’s continuous coverage requirements.
In a written statement from his office, Governor Justice said he remains concerned about protecting the state's elderly and disabled populations and he will review the proposal if the bill becomes law.
During a May press conference West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch did say he supported the legislation’s promise to increase Medicaid flexibility for states.
The AHCA has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives and is being considered by the U.S. Senate.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.