By Kim Jones, Coordinator for Health Care for All-WV
The 2024 West Virginia Legislative Session is in full swing! For Health Care for All-WV our highest priority is protecting Medicaid. During the years of the COVID health emergency, the federal government made it easier for people to get and keep their vital health coverage. They sent states more funds to allow them to pay for the added number of people who needed the benefit. In April, the states had to begin going back to pre-pandemic funding. This resulted in a $114 million deficit. The federal government matches what states spend. Currently in WV, for every dollar we spend, the federal government matches with about $2.90. So if we don’t fill that gap, what we will lose will be closer to $400 million.
These funds go to children, low-income folks, people with disabilities, the elderly, to home healthcare, and many more services. They also go into our healthcare system, supporting hospitals, clinics, providing healthcare workers and staff jobs. For more detail, click here for an article by our partners at West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
Our concern lies with how the governor and legislature will choose to fill this gap in crucial funding. To cover the gap into the future, there is a proposal to add to the provider taxes that Managed Care Organizations or MCOs have to pay. But for this fiscal year, we hope that the solution to the problem doesn’t come in the form of cuts to benefits or services.
Other bills we are following include an increase to the Medicaid dental benefit for adults from $1000 to $2000. We know that Appalachians have suffered from many social determinants of health that affect our dental health. Lack of access to dental care for our most vulnerable should not be one of those factors. SB 374 attempts to raise that benefit to cover more care. And SB 313 includes reimbursement for doula care for expectant mothers to give both them and their babies a better start at that critical time in their lives.
Stay tuned and we will keep you informed about the healthcare legislation that will affect you and your family.