Affordable Care Act

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

Both of West Virginia’s U.S. Senators have now announced their opposition to a federal healthcare bill that could result in the loss of healthcare coverage for millions of Americans. 

Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito announced Tuesday afternoon in a press release she is a no vote on the bill. The statement came after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced earlier in the day he would delay a vote of the full Senate until after the 4th of July holiday.

Joe Manchin
AP / Steve Helber

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin is calling on Republican members of the U.S. Senate to open up their meetings about the new health care law, which is expected to be put to a vote in Congress before their July break. 

Doctor, medicine
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A research group that examines how government policies affect low-income Americans says the latest proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act will particularly hurt rural communities including those in West Virginia.

The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says the House-passed replacement for "Obamacare" would effectively end its Medicaid expansion under which 76,900 rural West Virginians gained medical coverage. The program is almost entirely federally funded.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., explained his vote for the American Health Care Act in an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting today.

Critics of the House bill say it reduces funding for Medicaid, and makes services like substance abuse treatment optional for states.

But McKinley said the bill contains additional funding to cover drug treatment.

“It’s disingenuous for anyone to suggest that we’re not going to have adequate money for Medicaid for people on drug overdose problems. We’re going to have that,” he said.

HHS Sec. Tom Price speaking at a press conference at the state Capitol.
Ashton Marra / WVPB

All three West Virginia Congressmen voted for the American Health Care Act – the bill to repeal Obamacare.

Critics say it would hurt low-income and older people, both of which are found in abundance in West Virginia. Supporters say Obamacare has failed to offer affordable health care options to many. We debate who’s right.

Also, should pets be allowed in the workplace? And if so, under what conditions?

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives approved a Trump-backed healthcare bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Joe Manchin believes the bill has major issues and will likely move slowly through the U.S. Senate.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton looks at rural hospitals and how the new federal health care proposal will affect them and Ashton Marra talks with Tom Smith, the new Secretary of the state Department of Transportation.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Community groups across the state held several town-hall style events focused on changes to America’s health care system during the past week. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., attended four of the events and was the only member of West Virginia’s congressional delegation to do so.

Michael Virtanen / AP

Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin said Thursday he'll oppose any legislation that takes health care away from West Virginians and urged people to "bombard" President Donald Trump with calls and emails to halt the Republican plan.

Manchin said Trump needs to be enlisted to stop the immediate Republican push to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care law. The law added coverage to about 210,000 people in West Virginia, including 25,000 getting treatment in a state ravaged by the opioid epidemic.

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Two U.S. House committees have approved a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  Critics of the law say it will raise premiums and cause millions to lose health coverage.

The House bill does, however, preserve an amendment written into the Affordable Care Act that makes it easier for coal miners with black lung disease to qualify for compensation benefits.

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On Monday night, members of the U.S. House of Representatives released their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. Possibly the biggest deal for West Virginia is that the new bill proposes changing the way that Medicaid is funded.

 

 

Medicaid is the joint state-federal insurance program that covers more than a third of West Virginians. Right now, the federal government matches state spending for Medicaid dollar for dollar. But under the proposed bill, that funding would change to a per-capita cap.  

Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says he agrees with the state's U.S. senators that they can't kick West Virginians off Medicaid "and leave them in the cold."

Justice, responding Tuesday to a proposal by congressional Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act, says he's asked his health secretary to examine the specifics, how it would affect West Virginia and what regulatory changes could help residents.

West Virginia's U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has joined with three Republican colleagues criticizing the House proposal to replace former President Barack Obama's health care law, saying they won't support a plan that doesn't have stability for individuals and families enrolled in expanded Medicaid.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, they say the proposed replacement drafted in the Republican-controlled House also lacks needed flexibility for states.

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Medical debt is incredibly easy to accrue. All it takes is an accident or an unexpected bill tacked onto an expected procedure or an out-of-network charge you didn’t know was out-of-network. Nationally, almost 24 percent of nonelderly Americans have past-due medical debt, according to an Urban Institute report published this week.

State-to-state, the debt rates vary widely, from a low level of indebtedness in Hawaii at about 6 percent of the population, to Mississippi at about 37 percent. West Virginia's rate is about 33 percent.

W.Va. Demonstrators Defend Affordable Care Act

Feb 27, 2017
West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On West Virginia Morning, Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton covered a rally in Charleston where demonstrators are seeking to save the Affordable Care Act and we’ll have a report about the ACA and rural hospitals and health clinics.

That’s on West Virginia Morning from West Virginia Public Broadcasting – telling West Virginia’s story.

After Obamacare: Rural Health Providers Nervous About Affordable Care Act Repeal

Feb 26, 2017
Photo Courtesy of Mountain Comprehensive Care

Mike Caudill runs Mountain Comprehensive Care Corporation in five eastern Kentucky counties. Many of his 30,000 patients gained insurance through Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. No one knows if or when those folks might lose coverage. But, Caudill said, the impact could be considerable.

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More than 22,000 West Virginians with substance use disorders have gained health coverage through Medicaid Expansion, according to a report released earlier this month in National Health Law Program. Medicaid Expansion was a voluntary provision of the Affordable Care Act.

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Although Congress hasn't presented the American public with a clear replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act – the ideas proposed so far are unlikely to make coverage more affordable or allow everyone who has coverage now to keep it. Uncertainty surrounding the ACA is also making it difficult for health plans to stay in the marketplace because they don’t know how to price their plans for next year.

But as members of Congress left Washington today for their February recess, Republicans made it clear they still intend to repeal the ACA.

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Today is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 insurance plan through the federal healthcare marketplace. But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this may be the last time people can sign up for insurance through the marketplace.

In 2016, more than 37,000 West Virginians signed up for health insurance through the ACA marketplaces. Nationwide, enrollment numbers for 2017 are up slightly from 2016 numbers – despite promises from President Trump to repeal the healthcare law.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

President Trump is four days into his first term and already has made big moves to repeal former President Obama’s signature healthcare law. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act – also called Obamacare - has the potential to affect millions of Americans. In this audio postcard, three West Virginians – a former chair of the House health committee, a college student and a small business owner – talk about how they are feeling about their healthcare coming into an era of Trump.

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