By Kim Jones, Health Care for All Coalition Coordinator
Health Care for All-West Virginia and our partners had a very exciting year in 2023. Starting off with the legislative session, we worked hard to get important bills passed and tried to stop bills that would be detrimental to the health of West Virginians.
The Affordable Medicaid Buy-In or Bridge Plan passed the House before stalling in the Senate. It would help working West Virginians who make too much to be eligible for Medicaid keep their vital health coverage when they make too much money to be eligible but too little to afford private insurance. We will continue to work towards our goal of having everyone in West Virginia covered.
In 2021 a dental benefit for adults was created for Medicaid recipients. We were hoping to see that benefit raised to $2000 a year, but that bill didn’t make it over the line. We opposed a bill that prohibited gender-affirming care for trans youth. Despite dozens of parents and loved ones speaking up to protect their children, it passed. Senator Takubo, who is a physician, added an amendment to mitigate the harm the bill will cause by carving out an exception that would protect care for young people with severe gender dysphoria. We hope that a more enlightened and compassionate day will come that will see the reversal of this dangerous decision by our legislature.
The best news on the healthcare front from this year’s legislative session, is that after four years of striving for more affordable insulin for the many diabetics in the state, SB 577 passed! Starting January 1st, all of those with private insurance will have a $35 copay cap on a month’s supply of insulin! And even better, the copay for supplies like testing strips, lancets, continuous glucose monitoring supplies, glucometers, syringes, and insulin pump supplies to no more than $100 a month in cost-sharing. Hundreds of West Virginians worked with us during these years educating the legislators and the public and supporting this life-saving bill. Thank you to everyone who contributed their time and passion to help ease the terrible financial burden on diabetics and their families!
In June, the Health Care for All-WV team traveled to Washington, DC and met with the policy advisors of Senator Manchin, Senator Capito and Delegate Miller. We brought to them our concerns about pharmacy benefit managers, Medicare Advantage fraud, medical debt and the national insulin copay cap. We learned more about the healthcare issues our lawmakers were concerned about, like the Reentry Act and issues surrounding childhood trauma. We also got to spend time with our national coalition partners with People’s Action at their nationwide Organizing Revival.