By Dan Heyman, WVNS
A close analysis of which states will win or lose under the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, has found West Virginia second among winners after New York.
WalletHub, a personal finance website and social network, says that West Virginia has a large number of poor people with health issues, many of whom end up in the emergency room without the ability to pay.
John Kiernan, a senior analyst at WalletHub, says the law should ease that, and that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s decision to expand Medicaid will make a large difference.
“Choosing to expand Medicaid, getting all of this extra federal funding, their uninsured rates are going down,” Kiernan says. “That decision has domino effects across most of the issues that we looked at.”
According to Wallethub, West Virginia will get more than $5 of federal funding for every tax dollar residents pay.
Critics of Obamacare argue it will cost taxpayers to subsidize health insurance for people who don’t have it.
But Kiernan says the taxpayers have to pay more now, when the uninsured end up in expensive hospital care they can’t pay for.
He says when more people have preventive care and insurance that can pay for regular doctors’ visits, it will end up easing the burden on federal and state budgets.
“Obviously, a lot of state and federal money is going into providing some payments for the uncompensated care burden on state hospital systems,” he explains. “So it’s definitely one of the primary positives.”
Keirnan adds that taxpayers in states that agree to expand Medicaid will do much better than those in states that don’t. But he says many of the states that said no to the expansion have the highest numbers of uninsured residents.
If Medicaid were expanded everywhere, he maintains, rural red Southern and Western states would have seen a better return on the cost.
“In that hypothetical scenario, red states would actually win out,” he points out. “And so, it would seem these Republican-leaning states are allowing their political agendas to kind of hamper them reaping the benefits of the law.”