Stories, Blogs, Policy Updates, and More

WARNING: Supreme Court Nominee Is Hazardous to Your Health

Senator Joe Manchin is encouraging West Virginians to send him their thoughts on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

A website and email address have been set up by Manchin’s office for constituents to comment on the federal judge.

Constituents can submit their views of Judge Kavanaugh through a form on Manchin’s Senate website or by emailing SCOTUS@manchin.senate.gov.

If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will be sitting on the Supreme Court when cases are decided that could take away consumer protections for pre-existing conditions and scale back Medicaid. Literally hundreds of thousands of West Virginians could lose their health insurance coverage. The stakes are very high.

See this background fact sheet on Judge Kavanaugh.

 


Medicaid Work Requirements Struck Down by Court

On Friday June 29, Federal Judge James E. Boasberg rejected Kentucky Governor Bevin and the Trump administration’s attempt to fundamentally alter Kentucky’s Medicaid program and make it much harder for vulnerable families to receive health care. Specifically, the court ruled that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) did not have the legal authority to approve a request by Governor Bevin to tie Medicaid eligibility to work requirements and new administrative reporting burdens.

 


The Power of a Story: "My Medicaid, My Life" by Alice Wong

Last summer, people of compassion across the country were fighting to prevent the United States Congress from repealing the ACA and slashing Medicaid funding by billions of dollars. And we won. 

An important part of the strategy that gave us that victory was sharing the stories of people on Medicaid with the media and with Members of Congress. 

Below you can go to an excerpt from the beginning of a piece that appeared in the New York Times on May 3, 2017. Alice Wong tells her story of how Medicaid has changed her life.  Please read the full piece by Alice and send copies to others.

There is no question that Alice is a powerful advocate for people with disabilities.

But anyone who shares their story can share that power and make a difference.

Go to Share Your Story and we will contact you.  You control your story - we will talk to you about if and how you might want to share your story and help protect Medicaid.


Coming Soon: Medicaid the Target for Huge Funding Cuts

In the U.S. Congress yesterday, Rick Santorum and other Republican leaders unveiled yet another plan to repeal the ACA and targeting Medicaid for huge funding cuts. Their full plan can be found here. As was the case with other Congressioal ACA repeal proposals in 2017, Medicaid would be hard-hit. Ironically called the "Health Care Choices" Proposal, it actually threatens to take away the choice to have affordable, quality health insurance from more than 200,000 West Virginians. 


Here We Go Again: Another Bill to Slash Medicaid Funding in Congress

The leadership in the U.S. Congress is at it again. This week leading conservative organizations and Republican leadership will introduce a new version of their ACA repeal bill, which we expect to closely resemble last summer’s Graham-Cassidy bill. (As a reminder, here’s a good summary of what that plan entailed.) While we don’t expect this legislation to go anywhere in the near term, we take this as an effort to put repeal at the top of the agenda for next year, circumstances permitting. This is also another attack on the ACA following close on the heels of President Trump's Administration’s decision not to defend the Texas lawsuit. President Trump has signaled his support by putting the old Graham-Cassidy bill into his 2019 proposed federal budget.

According to the national Center on Budget and Policy, like the other repeal bills that Congress considered and rejected last year, the new bill is very likely to eliminate the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid to low-income adults; make individual market coverage unaffordable for many moderate-income consumers; cap and cut federal Medicaid funding for seniors, people with disabilities, and families with children; roll back nationwide protections for people with pre-existing conditions; and cause millions of people to lose coverage. A new version of Cassidy-Graham would likely leave even more Americans uninsured, because it would likely provide even less federal funding for health coverage than the earlier bill. When a plan is released, we will pass along analyses and other relevant materials.


New KFF Study: Medicaid Work Requirement Hurts Working Enrollees

new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation provides illustrative scenarios of potential Medicaid coverage reductions if all states had work requirements similar to those already approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for Kentucky, Indiana, Arkansas and New Hampshire, and sought by several other states.  As the bar chart below illustrates, the analysis finds that a majority of people who would lose Medicaid coverage are likely to be working or able to qualify for an exemption; they would lose coverage due to administrative difficulty reporting their status. Between 1.4 million and 4 million adults could lose Medicaid coverage nationally, the analysis finds.

 

 


A Tough Row to Hoe: How Republican Policies are Leaving Rural Health Care in the Dust

A Tough Roe to Hoe: How Republican Policies are Leaving Rural Health Care in the Dust, is a new report released this week by one of West Virginians Together for Medicaid’s many collaborating organizations, Protect Our Care. The report finds that since 2010, 84 rural hospitals have closed. The vast majority – 90 percent – were in states that had refused to expand Medicaid at the time of the hospital’s closure.  And remember that the Medicaid expansion is a bargain for the states - the federal government pays at least 90 percent of the costs of the program. 

In West Virginia, our legislature had the wisdom and the compassion to be one of the first states to expand Medicaid. The Medicaid expansion in 2014 has allowed more than 180,000 West Virginia adults – of which about 2/3rds work but don’t have health insurance benefits at their low-wage jobs – have quality and affordable health insurance. With Medicaid, these West Virginians can go to a doctor and get the medical care they need to stay healthy and productive.

Rural hospitals financial status improved in Medicaid expansion states:

    • uncompensated care costs fell 43%
    •  Medicaid revenue as a share of total hospital revenue rose 33%
    • operating margins increased by 4 percentage points (difference between total revenues & operating costs)

There is no question that the Medicaid expansion in West Virginia has been a life-line for our rural hospitals. 


A Ride to the Doctor: Critical for West Virginians on Medicaid

During the 2018 West Virginia legislative session, a couple rumors circulated about proposals to change the non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) benefit in our state's Medicaid program.  For a rural state like West Virginia, this is a critically important benefit.  Luckily, these proposals did not gain traction and the NEMT benefit remained intact.

For example, a woman on Medicaid diagnosed with breast cancer who is getting treatment at WVU hospital's Betty Puskar Breast Cancer Center is able to getstate-of-the-art care and treatment.  However, if she lives in the Eastern Panhandle or in the southern counties of our state, she can face a long drive - 3 hours or more - to receive that treatment. The cost of gas alone can be more than a patient can afford.

For others, just getting to the local doctor can be challenging because they don't have a car and family members work and can't just take off to help.  

Here's some facts about the non-emergency medical transportation benefit in Medicaidand and why it is a good investment for West Virginia.

NEMT is Cost-Effective

A study of non-emergency medical transportation and health care access found that NEMT benefits are cost-effective or cost-saving for all 12 medical conditions analyzed, such as prenatal care, asthma, heart disease and diabetes.

While NEMT makes up less than one percent of total Medicaid expenditures, emergency room visits result in 15 times the cost of routine transportation.

Another estimate calculates $11 saved for up to each dollar spent on NEMT if one percent of total medical trips resulted in avoiding an emergency room visit.

NEMT Benefits Help Medicaid Expansion Populations Access Important Preventive Services

An independent evaluation of Indiana’s NEMT waiver found that transportation was identified by the largest proportion of members as the “most common” reason for missing an appointment.

Expansion populations are more likely to use the benefit to access cost-effective preventive services than traditional Medicaid populations.

Transportation Barriers Lead to Delayed or Missed Care for Consumers

Evidence shows that adults who lack transportation to medical care are more likely to have chronic health conditions and without adequate transportation, these conditions are likely to go unmanaged and eventually lead to costly emergency care and treatment that could have been prevented.

A January 2016 report by the United States Government Accountability Office concluded that the NEMT benefit “can be an important safety net for enrollees as research has identified the lack of transportation as affecting Medicaid enrollees’ access to services.” 

Click HERE for the sources for these facts.


Wednesday Wonk: Federal Medicaid Bills in House Opioid Package

On Wednesdays, West Virginians Together for Medicaid will feature a blog for Medicaid Policy Wonks....you know who you are!

With help from our national allies, we will feature a deeper dive into federal and state Medicaid proposed policy changes and bills.

Today we are featuring a new issue brief by the Center on Budget and Policy in Washington, DC that takes a look at the Medicaid bills that are part of the package of legislation addressing the opioid epidemic that the House is considering over the next two weeks. 

While not a comprehensive approach to the opioid epidemic, several of the Medicaid provisions likely to reach the House floor would take small but positive steps toward increasing provider capacity, ensuring a full continuum of care, and preventing people with SUDs from experiencing gaps in treatment.  But the costliest of the bills, which would allow Medicaid to pay for institutional care, goes in the opposite direction: it could undermine current state and federal efforts to ensure that people with SUDs have access to the full continuum of SUD treatment.  READ MORE ABOUT THIS NEGATIVE PROPOSAL

Read the full report


Police Chief: We Can Fight Opioid Abuse with Medicaid

 We can fight opioid abuse by expanding Medicaid: this opinion piece by a small-town North Carolina chief of police underscores the role that Medicaid expansion plays in helping to fight the opioid use epidemic. 

"Coming face-to-face with this epidemic has shown me opioid use disorders can ensnare anyone. It is happening right here in our communities to families from all walks of life. Most people with opioid use disorders want badly to escape their substance use disorder, but breaking the bonds of opioid use disorder usually requires not only remarkable grit and resolve but also professional treatment...."

"After Vice President Mike Pence [expanded Medicaid] when he was governor of Indiana, his Department of Health said, 'A lack of health insurance was one of the first barriers to testing and treatment...[health insurance coverage] helped address that gap and opened door to medical care and treatment that have been life-changing.' "


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article211496129.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/article211496129.html#storylink=cpy

 


West Virginians Together for Medicaid