CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Resources says the hope is adding more than 100,000 West Virginians to Medicaid, the government’s health care insurance program for the poor, will save money and lives in the long run.

“These people are being cared for in one setting or another (without the Medicaid coverage),” Karen Bowling said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

“The goal needs to be to put them in the least costly setting where they receive the most appropriate care and, hopefully, in turn, that’s going to, over time, improve our health statistics because we’re looking at things in a different way.”

As part of the Affordable Care Act, individuals and families in participating states, like West Virginia, with yearly incomes of up to 138 percent of the poverty level now qualify for Medicaid.  For an individual, the cutoff for coverage is $15,856 annually.  For a family of four, it’s $32,499.

Since October, DHHR officials confirmed 104,827 state residents have been added to Medicaid because of the expansion, bringing the number of people whose health care insurance comes from the government program to 461,354 — or about one in every four West Virginians.

“Many of those individuals are the working poor,” said Bowling.  “Although we’re covering them on Medicaid now, in many cases, these individuals were probably receiving care in emergency rooms.”  Historically, ER care is the most expensive and, when people cannot afford it or don’t have insurance, it becomes uncompensated care.

“Our hope is that those individuals, in being now on the Medicaid rolls, that we’re going to be able to focus our attention on reducing costs and improving quality and ensuring those individuals get preventative care,” she said.

Taxpayers fund Medicaid.  For 2015, West Virginia has budgeted $3.6 billion for it — a total that includes $2.7 billion in federal money and $930 million in state money.

For the next five years, West Virginia will pay no additional dollars for those now getting Medicaid coverage under the expansion.  In 2020, though, the federal share will be reduced to 90 percent and the state will have to cover ten percent of the expansion’s costs.

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Comments

  • Gary R

    Now they will be adding all the prisoners in prisons to Medicaid if they haven't already. Before it is all over 30 to 35 percent of WV will be on Medicaid. Thanks Tomblin.

  • John

    When the new minimum wage increase take effect, this should raise a lot of the Medicaid insurance recipients above the income level of being eligible, but I'll bet a dollar that you won't hear of any of them losing their free insurance.
    Free rides, welfare, food stamps and all the other freebies paid for by the working class has ruined this state and country. There is no incentive for people to work anymore. Just set back and wait for the check and food stamps each month, (talk to other druggies on their free cell phone) and not have a worry in the world.

  • reality check

    Hope our rainy day fund lasts that long, because 2020 will be a rainy day.

  • bac

    Everything else that state government does will have to be drastically cut in order to give people this "free" healthcare. Not to mention, not enough physicians and hospitals to handle it all.

  • gary

    What a joke. Our taxes will go thru the roof because of this. States that have done this have seen an abuse of Medicaid going to the emergency room with rates increasing of 40 percent more. After three years the federal government share goes to 95 percent and then to 90 in 2020 and after 2022 who knows. I've asked Manchin and Rockefeller what the rates will be after 2022 and haven't got an answer. I guess they're still writing that part. How is this going to save money for the taxpayers. How stupid do you think we are?

  • Imgrill

    The real story here is that so many of our state residence qualify. What plans do we have to improve the soci-economic status of our citizens? Instead of complaining that they are on Medicaid let's find away to improve their income an acceptable living wage

  • Me

    We should feel good about this?

  • DWL

    Entitlement mentality, breed by m0r0n-care. Bleeding the coffers dry.

  • RogerD

    All these fun and games are great until someone gets hurt. With all the new medicaid patients being introduced into the system, they will find fewer and fewer doctors to take them. With the reimbursement levels so low, doctors have to limit the number of medicaid patients they see, so they can keep their practice afloat.

  • Leroy j Gibbs

    Get everyone on welfare then take it away. Total mayhem...martial law. .then the government has you

  • Alum

    Ah, the political fix is in. The politicians won't change business policy to create meaningful jobs in the state so they resort to the old vote buying trick.

    Keep it up boys and girls in Charleston. Eventually you will crash WV just like Congress is intent on crashing the US. Might as well take them both down simultaneously.

    • David Kennedy

      Having Medicade means a person has no assets of will give all of his land, property and home to the government in exchange for providing health care.
      It's a win...win situation for the government...those houses can be sold and if there is real property, it can be drilled for gas and oil.
      This government is set on destroying what was our 'middle class.
      Peasants have no need of / for property (or rights) Any property will be controlled or owned by the Lords of the manor.
      In reading this article it dawned on me that one in 4 people in West Virginia is old and destitute and in need of care.
      By 2020 most of us will be in the cemetery and these present concerns will only be dust on the wind.

  • susanf1218

    Meanwhile the tax revenues for the state are declining. How will the state be able to support this expansion? Answer: We can't afford this unsustainable program!!

  • Jason R.

    One in four West Virginians on Medicaid. A number to be proud of for sure.

    • RHytonen

      True. It should be 5 out of 5.
      100%, like every wealthy,
      civilized country in the world.

      Privatization doubles costs,
      but enriches only corporations' something-for-nothing investor/gamblers and vastly overpaid CEO's..
      And that profit comes out of the pockets of the working man and his family. The largest and most profitable corporations pay no taxes, and in fact get subsidies. Why?

      • NCWV62

        When was the last time the government invented a new drug or treatment and gave it away for free? The private sector does the research and invents those things. If you take that away, advances go with it. However, there has to be a happy medium where advances continue but the price of healthcare could still be reasonable.

      • Charleston

        RH: I am in agreement that there is corporate welfare in addition to numerous subsidies for the impoverished, but you lose when your attack is one-sided. The greed comes from both ends. Why can't you see that there is greed on both ends of the spectrum? The poor as well pay very little taxes, and in fact get subsidies as well.