Medicaid’s Wild Ride

by Mindy Salango, Healthcare Organizer

The momentum of the ACA and Medicaid expansion has helped us build a significant and growing movement for healthcare access. We were facing extreme cuts to both Medicaid and I/DD services from the legislature. These budgets are now in the red in West Virginia; the Medicaid program alone has a $147 million shortfall for fiscal year 2025. WV Medicaid is a state/federal matching program, and if the state did not fully fund Medicaid, the program was set to lose $628 million, which represents 12 percent of the program budget. Fifty-three percent of the children in West Virginia depend on Medicaid for healthcare.

The governor called a special session to address this shortfall on May 17th as the legislature would be in session for the May interim starting May 19th. However, on Monday, May 20th, the bill was debated back and forth between the House and Senate, and there was no resolution. On Tuesday, the games began. The Senate had the bill and added language introducing some alarming provisions. The most concerning was that the $183 million ‘reserve fund’ has a sunset provision that states any of the dollars that aren’t used by March 31st, 2025, go back to general revenue. This poses a problem as the funds would not be available during the last part of the fiscal year when the agencies and programs would need it most.

To ensure that these provisions would either pass or kill the bill, the Senate adjourned sine die before the House could even gavel into session. This move forced the House to pass the bill so that the funding would be available before the end of the fiscal year on June 30th. The health and well-being of the most vulnerable populations in our state should not be held as a political bargaining chip.  

While we are not yet giving out any congratulations for getting the bill passed, WVCAG will be carefully monitoring the situation to see how it unfolds. As always, we stand ready to fight for everyone to have access to healthcare and the services they deserve. Our fight to protect Medicaid continues.  

We encourage everyone to contact their local Senators and tell them that this type of political chess match will not stand. We, your constituents, are watching, and our lives are NOT a game.

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