WASHINGTON, D.C. — New health insurance coverage is scheduled to take effect Wednesday, New Year’s Day, for the thousands of West Virginians who have enrolled for that coverage from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield via the federal exchange.
It’ll mark a milestone in the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.
On Jan. 1, some key provisions on that health care reform law will be fully implemented, including the following:
- Insurance coverage through the state and federal exchanges, along with qualifying tax credits, will kick in. People who do not have health insurance will be able to continue to enroll through March 31.
- Consumer protections, like those that keep insurance companies from denying coverage because of preexisting conditions or gender, will be in effect.
- Caps on annual coverage for an individual in new insurance plans or existing group plans will be lifted.
- Medicaid will expand to cover more people, including more than 60,000 additional West Virginians.
First District Congressman David McKinley (R-WV), though, said the law needs major adjustments in 2014.
“Not everything in Obamacare is bad. That would be foolish to say that,” he said. “There are people who were happy with it, but they’re outraged by the fact that their premiums are going up so much.”
He said U.S. House Republicans have as many as five alternative plans that will be rolled out in the coming months on Capitol Hill.
Second District Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) agreed. “I voted to repeal and replace and I will still do that, but the train is on the tracks now even though it’s a wreck. We’ve got to really look at adjustments,” she said.
Members of Congress will return to Washington, D.C. during the week of Jan. 6.
The health care reform law is expected to be a major issue in the 2014 races for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House.