Governor Earl Ray Tomblin may make a decision about the possible expansion of Medicaid in West Virginia some time this summer.
Officials with the Tomblin Administration say a new work plan is now in place for the company that is conducting a comprehensive study of the effects of that expansion on the Mountain State.
The report could be completed next month.
“The national figures that were out there tended to be inconsistent. They weren’t the kind of data that I would have felt comfortable with the Governor making a decision on,” West Virginians for Affordable Health Care Executive Director Perry Bryant said of the need for the ongoing actuarial analysis.
“It’s taking a little longer than I would like but, still, the process was very thoughtful and deliberative.” Bryant’s group supports the expansion which would take Medicaid eligibility from the current 130% of the poverty level to 138% of the poverty level.
The change could potentially add 120,000 low income West Virginians to the 415,000 who currently qualify for Medicaid coverage. With the expansion, individuals making up to $15,000 a year would qualify.
Critics of the possible expansion of Medicaid say the state cannot afford it. At the current coverage levels, West Virginia’s share of Medicaid, which is now at $870 million annually, will grow to $900 million next year and even more in the coming years.
As proposed, the federal government would pay for 100% of the added costs of Medicaid expansion through 2017, but reduce that contribution to 90% by 2020. There are concerns the federal subsidy of the expansion would decrease even more in subsequent years.
A report from Avalere Health, a health care public policy company, shows West Virginia is the only state that has not indicated its plans for Medicaid at this point.
As of earlier this week, 20 states and Washington, D.C. had decided to expand.
There is no formal deadline for a decision, but applications could start being accepted from new Medicaid recipients on October 1st of this year with coverage beginning on January 1st.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states are allowed to decide, on their own, whether to expand Medicaid programs under provisions in the federal Affordable Care Act.