How would repealing Obamacare affect West Virginia?
Here are the key findings from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy report released earlier this week:
– At least 184,000 West Virginians could lose health insurance coverage, many of whom are working in low-wage jobs such as food services.
– An estimated 29,000 West Virginians could lose their premium subsidies in the Marketplace, which totaled $135.8 million in 2016. Nearly 19,000 people in this group also received cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), which lowered deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for them by roughly $23.9 million that year.
– West Virginia’s budget crisis could worsen if ACA provisions that provide direct savings to the state are repealed.
– The Commonwealth Fund estimates that the loss of federal dollars flowing into West Virginia from the ACA could result in the loss of 16,000 jobs and $9.1 billion in state economic output (State GDP) in 2019.
– West Virginia will lose an estimated $349 million over five years in state and local taxes as a result of reduced economic activity generated by the ACA.
– Vital consumer protections could be at risk, including for about 800,000 West Virginians with pre-existing conditions; 581,000 state residents who saw an end to annual and lifetime limits on insurance plans; 773,000 who received free preventive care; and about 12,000 young adults who were able to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.
Obviously, simply repealing without replacing Obamacare would have a major effect upon the state. Along those lines, Wallethub is out with another one of their state comparisons -- this one titled:
2017’s States Most Affected by ACA Repeal
Their analysis ranks West Virginia #2 in states that would be affected.
(Note -- hat tip to Wendy Holdren at the Beckley Register-Herald for these two sources. And shouldn't all WV's newspapers be covering this?)
What do West Virginians think?
The most recent poll that I could find, Public Policy Polling earlier this month, suggests that West Virginians want a replacement that keeps the best parts of Obamacare:
Public Policy Polling, a polling firm based out of Raleigh, N.C., found 79 percent of respondents believe it is wrong for Congree to repeal “Obamacare” without a plan that lowers costs, retains coverage and protects people with pre-existing conditions.
Additionally, 58 percent said Congress should keep the working parts of President Barack Obama’s health care law intact.
“Clearly West Virginians believe the ACA needs to be fixed, not eliminated,” said Renate Pore, interim executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, in a statement.
The firm also found that 82 percent of respondents oppose allowing insurance companies to deny coverage for preexisting conditions, and 78 percent oppose eliminating provisions that provide routine check-ups such as cancer screenings.
(Of course, "keeping the working parts," including the ones that are mentioned, is what pushes up the cost of the program. And that's part of the Republican problem of replacement.)
And what are West Virginia's senators doing?
Shelley Moore Capito is one of the sponsors of an Obamacare replacement bill. From CBS News:
“Republicans think if you like your insurance you should keep it,” Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy said Monday. “And we mean it.”
He and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, along with Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Johnny Isakson of Georgia proposed legislation that lets states keep former President Obama’s health care overhaul or opt for a new program providing trimmed-down coverage.
The article goes on to suggest that may not work with all Republicans:
But Mr. Trump and congressional GOP leaders have not suggested letting states retain the entire statute. Such a proposal could dismay conservative voters who for years have viewed Republican calls to repeal the law as a top-tier promise and goal.
Our other acting-Republican senator, Joe Manchin, hasn't said much about Obamacare since earlier this month when he pledged to help Republicans "repair" Obamacare.
Perhaps, we should all relax and put our faith in our president. As he claimed earlier this week:
“We’re going to have a much better health plan at much less money,” the president told ABC News on Wednesday. “We will unleash something that’s going to be terrific.”