Medicaid Expansion

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A new study has found that Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act led to a profound impact on diagnosis and survival rates of colorectal cancer in parts of Appalachia.

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A new study from Indiana University has found that the Affordable Care Act led to an increase in early-stage cancer diagnosis in Medicaid expansion states like West Virginia. 

 

The research suggests that public health insurance may increase cancer detection. Early cancer detection is linked to better outcomes for patients and fewer deaths. West Virginia has one of the highest rates of cancer in the nation.

Healthy Debate: What The Republican Health Bill Taught Us About Medicaid

Jul 23, 2017
Mary Meehan / Ohio Valley ReSource

It’s hard to find a spot on the map where the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act would have a bigger effect than in the Ohio Valley. By one measure, for example, the proposal could mean West Virginia’s rate of people who lack health insurance would climb by nearly 300 percent -- the biggest such change in the country. The projected declines in Kentucky and Ohio are also more than twice the national average. This is largely due to proposed changes in Medicaid.

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.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting


West Virginia’s opioid overdose death rate is two and a half times the national average, the highest in the country. Last year, 864 West Virginians died from an overdose, up by more than 17 percent from the year prior.

 

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Sec. Bill Crouch shared those statistics at a press conference Tuesday. Crouch hosted U.S. Health and Human Services Sec. Tom Price for a closed-door meeting about the state’s struggle with substance abuse and what the federal government can do to help.

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On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the U.S. House of Representatives proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act.The CBO estimates that the proposed legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. Savings would come primarily from cutting funding to Medicaid and eliminating nongroup subsidies. A third of West Virginians are on Medicaid and such cuts could have big implications for the state.

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On Monday night, members of the U.S. House of Representatives released their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act. Possibly the biggest deal for West Virginia is that the new bill proposes changing the way that Medicaid is funded.

 

 

Medicaid is the joint state-federal insurance program that covers more than a third of West Virginians. Right now, the federal government matches state spending for Medicaid dollar for dollar. But under the proposed bill, that funding would change to a per-capita cap.  

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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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Although Congress hasn't presented the American public with a clear replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act – the ideas proposed so far are unlikely to make coverage more affordable or allow everyone who has coverage now to keep it. Uncertainty surrounding the ACA is also making it difficult for health plans to stay in the marketplace because they don’t know how to price their plans for next year.

But as members of Congress left Washington today for their February recess, Republicans made it clear they still intend to repeal the ACA.

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Penny Hart is a single mother of two. She works full-time as a receptionist and hygienist in a small, rural dental practice.

 

Except for during her pregnancies, Hart lacked insurance for her entire adult life, which has made dealing with debilitating migraines particularly difficult. Imitrex – the migraine medication she takes – runs about $39 a 25 mg tablet for the brand name and about $24 for the generic.

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It seems like everyone is angry about the huge price increase of Mylan's EpiPen. But what's the real cause?

On "The Front Porch" podcast, Laurie Lin blames federal regulations which inhibit market competition.

We also discuss the future of the Affordable Care Act. Both Bill Cole and Jim Justice, the two leading candidates in West Virginia's 2016 gubernatorial election, have said they will maintain the state's expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Kara Lofton / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Elizabeth Brown, M.D., operates a small, thriving private practice in South Charleston. “Most doctors want to practice, that’s why we went into medicine,” she said in a recent interview.

But being in private practice isn’t easy. Across America, doctors are leaving private practice in droves, citing reimbursement challenges and greater overhead costs. For some, staying means deciding to not take certain insurances.

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A report released today from Families USA found that West Virginia has one of the most successful Medicaid expansion programs in the country.

The report used U.S. Census data to compare the rate of uninsured workers in all 50 states during 2014, the first year Medicaid expansion was offered. It found that West Virginia had reduced uninsured worker rates by 30 percent – 5 points higher than the expanded Medicaid state average. Non-expansion states reduced their uninsured worker rates by 13 percent on average.

Ashton Marra

The deadline to sign up for health insurance or Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and the state Medicaid expansion is Monday, March 31, but don’t fret! There is still time to start the application process if you haven’t yet begun.

Michelle Bays, a certified application counselor for Valley Health in Huntington, says there is some basic information you need in order to apply for coverage on the federal healthcare exchange.

Enrollment in West Virginia's health insurance marketplace has jumped by more than 500 percent in the past month.
 
     Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield says about 1,200 West Virginians have enrolled in plans through the federal exchange as of Monday. That's up from 198 people on Nov. 13.
 
     Highmark is the only private insurer participating in West Virginia's health insurance marketplace.
 
     Meanwhile, about 75,000 people have enrolled in the state's expanded Medicaid program, 12,000 more than the state projected.