There has been an awful lot of talk about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a lot of it has been misleading and uninformed. Here are some points I’d like to make about how this Act, passed by Congress, signed by the President and upheld by the Supreme Court, all three branches, will help people in our state of West Virginia.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) expands health insurance coverage to virtually all Americans in two basic ways. First, many states, including West Virginia, are expanding Medicaid up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL) on January 1, 2014. The Medicaid expansion means that everyone who earns less than $15,800, who is a US citizen, who lives in West Virginia and is under age 65, is eligible for Medicaid beginning January 1, 2014. An estimated 133,500 low-income West Virginians will qualify under the Medicaid expansion.
Second, subsidized private insurance plans will be available in the Health Insurance Marketplace. The subsidies for these insurance plans are available on a sliding scale to individuals and families earning between 100 percent of the FPL (about $11,500 for an individual and $19,500 for a family of three) and 400 percent of the FPL (about $46,000 for an individual and $78,000 for a family of three). These policies also become effective as early as January 1, 2014. Enrollment in both the expanded Medicaid and the subsidized private insurance plans can begin on October 1, 2013.
The Offices of the Insurance Commissioner projects that over the next three years the percentage of uninsured West Virginians will be reduced by 70 percent. The current number of uninsured, 246,000, will be reduced to 76,000. Imagine 170,000 fewer uninsured West Virginians within three years.
Again, the number of West Virginians without health insurance is believed to be around 240,000 and is expected to be reduced to 76,000.
That’s an incredible change and something I think everyone can say is a wonderful opportunity for West Virginia and her citizens, nearly a fifth of who have no coverage currently.
Now, this Act is not a magic formula that will cure all that ails West Virginia or solve all of our problems but hopefully it will allow people who previously were unable to obtain coverage due to rising costs, or were denied for a pre-existing condition, the ability to get help. Of course, I will be paying close attention to make sure the glitches we’ve seen in the early days of this program are ironed out and to assure tax payers that the money is being spent correctly.
If you should have any questions or comments regarding any issues or bills before the legislature please feel free to contact me. To write me, my address is Delegate David Walker, State Capitol, Building 1, Room 203-E, Charleston, WV 25305. Or you may call me at (304) 340-3135. I encourage all my constituents to remain active and become part of the legislative process.