ACA

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An analysis of 130 metropolitan areas found that Appalachia has some of the highest rates of pre-existing health conditions in the nation. The report comes in the midst of continued federal proposals to weaken pre-existing condition requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

Among other things, the ACA guaranteed people access to insurance regardless of how healthy they are. Prior to the ACA, insurance companies could decline to provide insurance to people with type two diabetes or cancer, for instance.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we’ll hear about a new program at Marshall University that aims to accommodate all students. It’s called the Trans Closet -- where students who identify as transgender can find clothing in a judgement-free zone. This story and more on West Virginia Morning.

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Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces fell in most states across the country in the past year, including West Virginia, while 15 states saw enrollment increases, according to a new Urban Institute report. But West Virginia and Louisiana had the MOST significant drops at almost 20 percent and 24 percent fewer enrollees, respectively.

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A new health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. The bill would fundamentally alter Medicaid financing and reduce federal spending for health coverage, according to a new analysis released today by the nonpartisan think tank Kaiser Family Foundation.

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Data released Tuesday by the United States Census Bureau shows the Affordable Care Act continues to reduce the number of West Virginians without health insurance.

In 2016, 96,000 West Virginians lacked health insurance coverage – that’s down 12,000 from the previous year, according to a news release from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy – which studied the U.S. Census Bureau’s data.

West Virginia's Republican U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has voted to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act in legislation defeated in a 51-49 floor vote early Friday.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders held two health care rallies yesterday in Covington, Kentucky and Morgantown, West Virginia, telling attendees to put pressure on their state representatives to vote against the GOP health care plans. Kara Lofton spoke with Sanders about his visits and what he thinks the proposed legislation would mean for Appalachia. 

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A vote on the Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has been put on hold after several Republican Senators, including West Virginia's Shelley Moore Capito, have publicly said they cannot support it. Nationally, opposition for the bill continues to mount as more and more groups release reports about the negative impacts the current bill could have on access to treatment in rural areas, like much of West Virginia.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Six West Virginians held a sit-in at Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s office in Charleston yesterday saying they wouldn’t leave until she votes against the Senate bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. The group was peacefully arrested around 5pm.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

This week, the U.S. Senate debuted their GOP health bill, a plan that includes deep cuts to Medicaid. These cuts would have dramatic impacts on hospital finances in every state, according to an analysis released this morning by the Commonwealth Fund, particularly in Medicaid expansion states like West Virginia.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, we hear from the Ohio Valley ReSource about how statistics show a decline in life expectancy just as the debate about the possible effects of the American Health Care Act are being bebated across the region.

We'll also hear from statehouse reporter Ashton Marra about budget and tax reform negotiations at the Legislature.

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Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act – a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. All three of West Virginia’s representatives supported the bill, but ACA supporters, including the liberal-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, are concerned the bill will harm rural Americans.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., explained his vote for the American Health Care Act in an interview with West Virginia Public Broadcasting today.

Critics of the House bill say it reduces funding for Medicaid, and makes services like substance abuse treatment optional for states.

But McKinley said the bill contains additional funding to cover drug treatment.

“It’s disingenuous for anyone to suggest that we’re not going to have adequate money for Medicaid for people on drug overdose problems. We’re going to have that,” he said.

HHS Sec. Tom Price speaking at a press conference at the state Capitol.
Ashton Marra / WVPB

All three West Virginia Congressmen voted for the American Health Care Act – the bill to repeal Obamacare.

Critics say it would hurt low-income and older people, both of which are found in abundance in West Virginia. Supporters say Obamacare has failed to offer affordable health care options to many. We debate who’s right.

Also, should pets be allowed in the workplace? And if so, under what conditions?

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Two U.S. House committees have approved a Republican proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.  Critics of the law say it will raise premiums and cause millions to lose health coverage.

The House bill does, however, preserve an amendment written into the Affordable Care Act that makes it easier for coal miners with black lung disease to qualify for compensation benefits.

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Medical debt is incredibly easy to accrue. All it takes is an accident or an unexpected bill tacked onto an expected procedure or an out-of-network charge you didn’t know was out-of-network. Nationally, almost 24 percent of nonelderly Americans have past-due medical debt, according to an Urban Institute report published this week.

State-to-state, the debt rates vary widely, from a low level of indebtedness in Hawaii at about 6 percent of the population, to Mississippi at about 37 percent. West Virginia's rate is about 33 percent.

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More than 22,000 West Virginians with substance use disorders have gained health coverage through Medicaid Expansion, according to a report released earlier this month in National Health Law Program. Medicaid Expansion was a voluntary provision of the Affordable Care Act.

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Today is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 insurance plan through the federal healthcare marketplace. But if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, this may be the last time people can sign up for insurance through the marketplace.

In 2016, more than 37,000 West Virginians signed up for health insurance through the ACA marketplaces. Nationwide, enrollment numbers for 2017 are up slightly from 2016 numbers – despite promises from President Trump to repeal the healthcare law.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

President Trump is four days into his first term and already has made big moves to repeal former President Obama’s signature healthcare law. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act – also called Obamacare - has the potential to affect millions of Americans. In this audio postcard, three West Virginians – a former chair of the House health committee, a college student and a small business owner – talk about how they are feeling about their healthcare coming into an era of Trump.

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Latest enrollment figures show that 32,855 West Virginians signed up for 2017 coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of Dec. 24, 2016. 

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President Obama met with Senate Democrats today to discuss strategies to save his signature health care law. Meanwhile Senate Republicans have already introduced a budget resolution that would unravel large pieces of the Affordable Care Act with a majority vote.

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The fourth annual open enrollment for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act begins today. Over the past year, more West Virginians than ever before have become ensured, including thousands with preexisting health conditions. But the first three years of the ACA have been far from smooth. Premiums and deductibles continue to rise, and more and more insurers are leaving the marketplace. Kara Lofton talked with Timothy Jost, an emeritus professor of law at Washington and Lee University and ACA expert about what consumers can expect for 2017.

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New studies released this week show West Virginians are experiencing slower growth in health care premiums, increased access to coverage, and higher quality of care under the Affordable Care Act.

Only 6 percent of people in West Virginia went uninsured in 2015, down from 14.6 percent in 2010, according to new Census data. That drop means 156,000 West Virginians gained coverage in five years, according to a U.S. Department of Health & Human Services press release.

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For those of you who have to buy insurance through the Affordable Care Act it’s that time of year again – open enrollment is just around the corner. But finding the right plan can be both confusing and time consuming. That’s why for the second year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are awarding grants to West Virginia organizations that support in-person help in shopping for the right plan.

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During Tuesday's show, we talked about West Virginians who are struggling with high deductibles that come with plans they bought through the Affordable Care Act, or ACA as it’s also known. Deductibles are what a consumer has to pay before their insurance kicks in. That story elicited quite a bit of feedback from our listeners. So today, health reporter Kara Lofton talks with Renate Pore, chairwoman of the West Virginia Medicaid Coalition, about some of the ways the ACA is affecting West Virginians.

Liz McCormick / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The MBA program at Shepherd University hosted a panel discussion in Martinsburg Wednesday night that drew in a large crowd. The topic – the Affordable Care Act. The goal of the discussion was to look at the good, the bad, and the unknown and discuss how it directly affects West Virginians.

Dozens of people attended the event at the historic McFarland House in Martinsburg. Like most controversial pieces of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, has received plenty of attention since it was first enacted in 2010 – good and bad.