On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the U.S. House of Representatives proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.The CBO estimates that the proposed legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. Savings would come primarily from cutting funding to Medicaid and eliminating nongroup subsidies. A third of West Virginians are on Medicaid and such cuts could have big implications for the state. Kara Lofton talked to West Virginia University health policy professor Thomas Bias about the report and what changes West Virginians could expect to see if the proposed legislation becomes law.
On How West Virginia Will Be Impacted
The two most important estimates in there are what impact the new health care reform law could have on the budget and then on the number of uninsured in the United States. I guess the most concerning from the individual standpoint would be that the proposal would increase the number of uninsured by 24 million individuals by 2026. And most of that is expected to come from Medicaid. And so if you look at West Virginia, for instance, we were a Medicaid expansion state. We had a lot of individuals who became covered under the Medicaid expansion and so it's kind of unknown of what would happen with Medicaid here in West Virginia.
West Virginia is Not Only a Sick, But Old State. What Changes Might We See to Medicare?
Medicare has been the piece of the puzzle that has pretty much been left alone to date. But it's important to note that in West Virginia a lot of people are dual eligible for Medicaid and Medicare. So you can't look at just Medicare, but what impact Medicaid changes will have on Medicare patients as well.
On Stability of the Marketplaces Under the Proposed Legislation
The bill is going to see a lot of compromise and change before we see anything that's passable. Even this CBO report will play into the debates going forward. So at this point we aren't going to be seeing any certainty at all - here's the initial plan we've been waiting on. What will it look like a month or two from now? Who knows.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.