The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

April 11, 2013

Medicaid Expansion could help residents

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

BECKLEY — If Medicaid Expansion is approved by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare estimate that 120,000 uninsured, low-income West Virginians will gain health insurance coverage through Medicaid.

Southern Regional Coordinator Doris Selko said that according to the 2010 Census, more than 10,000 Raleigh County residents were uninsured and more than 7,000 were uninsured in Fayette County.

Selko also explained that the federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for the expansion population for the first three years, and afterwards, it will decrease to pay 90 percent by 2020.

The Expansion is available for anyone who falls below 138 percent of the federal poverty line, which is roughly $31,800 for a family of four and $15,400 for an individual.

“I urge everyone to call Gov. Tomblin and encourage him to approve Medicaid Expansion. Every day after Jan. 1, we will lose federal dollars.”

As an example, Selko said a family of four pays an average health insurance premium of over $1,000 per month and if the family is considered low income, making ends meet can be challenging.

However, if more families could be covered under the Medicaid Expansion, Selko said not only would this improve our state’s overall health, but it will also put disposable income back into the economy.

Thus far, 26 states have approved the Expansion, and Selko said Tomblin is awaiting the results of a study before he makes his final decision.

“This is too good of a deal to pass up,” she said. “If we don’t take the federal dollars, we still pay for states that do.”

She said the Expansion would bring $630 million to West Virginia in federal dollars.

“How do you pass that up?”

Selko said the impact would be great for Raleigh and Fayette counties, but even more so for counties at lower poverty levels, such as Wyoming and McDowell.

“This is important for West Virginia because we’re a poor state. We have an unhealthy population that faces conditions like obesity, diabetes and lung disease and many of them are uninsured.”

She said that many people working full-time at minimum wage jobs that currently do not provide insurance would especially benefit from the Expansion.

For more information, contact Selko at 304-673-0132, dselko101@suddenlink.net or visit www.wvahc.com.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com