A new health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill would fundamentally alter Medicaid financing and reduce federal spending for health coverage, according to a new analysis released today by the nonpartisan think tank Kaiser Family Foundation.
Among other things, the bill would repeal Medicaid expansion – a program impacting around 175,000 West Virginians. Medicaid expansion would be replaced with a new capped block grant program. That program would significantly limit the total amount of money states receive from the federal government.
The KFF analysis found that nationwide, federal funding for health coverage would decrease by $160 billion from 2020-2026. 35 states, including West Virginia, would see a loss in funding.
Advocates for the bill say states would have a lot more flexibility in how they use federal funds.
The bill would, for example, allow states to roll back what are called “essential health benefits” and allow insurers to charge higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions.
The bill is moving quickly through the legislative process, but is facing considerable criticism from advocacy groups.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.