by Gary Thompson
If you like the health insurance you received under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), that is, if you have been able to enroll in Medicaid or purchase a subsidized health plan on the ACA exchange since 2013, you are likely to lose some or all of it. This is certainly true if the Republicans in the U.S. Senate get their way within the next week.
Let’s consider a little background first. According to the Law Clinic blog from the WVU College of Law, “178,394 individuals [in West Virginia] have gained coverage under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion program, which amounts to a 61 percent increase in coverage…,” and “… 33,236 West Virginians have become insured by purchasing subsidized healthcare plans on the ACA exchange”since 2013. Fully, eight percent of the state’s entire population gained health care in this manner between 2013 and 2015. The uninsured rate dropped from 14 or only six percent.
The Graham-Cassidy Health Bill that is under consideration by the U.S. Senate, as this is being written, will reduce the funding for health care that West Virginia gets from the Federal Government anywhere up to $10 billion. In order to maintain the level of care West Virginians currently enjoy, the state will need to make up that difference.
Furthermore, in order to not have to make up such a large shortfall, the bill will allow states to determine the rules under which health care is offered. Specifically, they can allow insurers to raise the prices of health care for individuals with pre-existing conditions, something the ACA did not allow. The other way the state can reduce that shortfall is to limit the amount of care an individual receives or limit the number of people receiving the care.
Now I ask you, given the current state of West Virginia’s budget, do you honestly believe the state will locate or allocate the funding required? My prediction is a resounding no. You will probably lose some or all of your current health care benefits if you go under the ACA. And, do you know where your money for your health care will go? It will go to the state that refused, by choice, to not expand Medicaid. And the biggest winner is …Texas; the state that fought the hardest against you getting your health care in the first place.
Can we stop this? Maybe. The deadline for passage of this bill is midnight on Sept. 30. It’s up to our Senators. The last time your health care benefits were under siege they were successfully defended by a small group of Republican Senators led by Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Arkansas, two of the five female Republicans in the Senate. A third female Republican Senator is from right here in West Virginia, and her name is Shelly Moore Capito. Will she vote to save your health care? History can provide some clues.
Quoting from Shelly Moore Capito’s website: “As I have said before, I did not come to Washington to hurt people. … All of the Senate health care discussion drafts have failed to address these [my] concerns adequately.”
Yet, since November 2009, she has voted to repeal the ACA at every given opportunity, except one, and has voted against improving the ACA at every opportunity. She even voted for the “skinny” repeal bill, which up until the Graham-Cassidy bill, heralded the worst consequences for West Virginia.
History tells us Shelly Moore Capito will vote against health care for adults in West Virginia receiving Medicaid, she will vote against health care for children in West Virginia receiving Medicaid, she will vote against health care for seniors in West Virginia receiving Medicaid to help pay for nursing home care, she will vote against health and recovery care for anyone in West Virginia suffering from opioid addiction or the opioid crisis and she will vote against health care for anyone in West Virginia receiving insurance under the ACA exchanges.
In short, history tells us that Shelly Moore Capito will vote against the health, wellbeing and best interest of the citizens of West Virginia.
Again, quoting Shelly Moore Capito’s Website: “IMPORTANT: If this is a time-sensitive matter, … or a matter requiring immediate attention … Please call my Washington office at 202-224-6472 or my Charleston office at 304-347-5372.”
On this count, I agree with her. This is a very time sensitive matter of grave importance requiring immediate attention. Call Shelly Moore Capito and urge her to vote no on the Graham-Cassidy Bill. You and only you can sway her vote.