WVAHC Logo West Virginians for Affordable Health Care

Committed to affordable health care for all West Virginians... and doing something about it!


WVAHC Host Successful Enroll West Virginia Conference

Enroll West Virginia conferenceWest Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC) hosted a successful Enroll West Virginia conference on May 14th in Flatwoods. The conference drew nearly 250 participants with strong representation from community health centers, family resource networks (FRNs), free clinics, local health departments, hospitals: people who deal with the uninsured on a daily basis and are critical to enrolling the uninsured in either Medicaid or private insurance policies sold in the Health Insurance Marketplace – or exchanges. State agencies, including the Offices of the Insurance Commissioner, also participated in the conference.

During the conference, WVAHC released A Citizen’s Guide to Enrollment, a 28-page resource guide for people who are going to be involved in the enrollment process. You can view a copy of the Guide by clicking here.

The conference heard eight different presentations from national and state leaders on the enrollment process. Listed below are the presenters and the PowerPoint presentations that they used.

Nancy Atkins, Medicaid Commissioner, presentation on enrollment in Medicaid. (Download Presentation)

Sharon Carte, Director of CHIP, presentation on the changes in CHIP. (Download Presentation)

Richard Crespo and Cathy Slemp, researchers from Marshall University, presentation on health insurance literacy. (Download Presentation)

Joanne Grossi, US Department of Health and Human Services Region III Administrator, presentation on the federal role in enrollment in West Virginia. (Download Presentation)

Anita Hayes, Senior Policy Specialist for the Bureau for Children and Families at DHHR, on the use of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) to determine income. (Download Presentation)

Rachel Klein, Executive Director of Enroll America, on best practices for enrollment. (Download Presentation)

Jeremiah Samples, Project Manager for the Offices of the Insurance Commissioner, presentation on in-person assisters. (Download Presentation)

Kathleen Stoll, Deputy Executive Director of Families USA, presentation on how enrollment impacts people. (Download Presentation)

WVAHC will be following up on the one-day conference with 14 regional training sessions across the state in July. We will post the dates and places as soon as they are established on the Enroll West Virginia web site (www.enrollwv.org) and you will be able to register for these training sessions on that web site. Be sure to check back on that web site in June.

Governor Tomblin Approves the Medicaid Expansion

On May 2nd, Governor Tomblin approved the Medicaid expansion clearing the way for an estimated 133,500 low-income west Virginians to become eligible for Medicaid benefits as early as January 1, 2014.

In approving the expansion, Governor Tomblin released an actuarial analysis finding that over the next ten years West Virginia would receive $5.2 billion in federal money. The Medicaid expansion would only cost the state $375 million over the same time period. Put another way, West Virginia will receive almost $14 in federal money for each dollar they invest in the Medicaid expansion over the next ten year. In fact, the federal government pays 100 percent of the expansion cost over the next three years. Over time their percentage is reduced to 90 percent but never falls below a $9 return on every $1 that the state contributes to the expansion.

Behind all these numbers are west Virginians, most of whom work but work for an employer who cannot afford to provide health insurance for their employees. They are the waitress who serves us our lunches, employees of small roofing contractors, aides in a nursing home or employees of day care centers.

Governor Tomblin deserves credit for extending health insurance coverage to these working poor individuals and families. The chart below illustrates what difference the Medicaid expansion will mean to a family of three. The current income eligibility rises from $6,000 a year to almost $27,000 a year. Please write Governor Tomblin a letter of thanks for expanding Medicaid. His address is Building 1, State Capitol Complex, Charleston, west Virginia 25305. Thank you.

Family of 3 chart

Lower Costs Make for Higher Quality

The report, Lower Costs – Higher Quality, describes actions West Virginia can take to improve quality and contain costs in our health care system. This report is based on in-depth interviews conducted with thirty-three health care opinion leaders in West Virginia and is patterned on a national report prepared by the Commonwealth Fund. In the national report, heath care opinion leaders in high performing states found certain traits led to their state having a high performing health care system. These traits included:

  • Strong and continuous political leadership
  • Collaboration among medical provider organizations
  • Data and transparency
  • Healthier, better educated and a more affluent population

Read what West Virginia health care leaders thought would led our state to become a high performing health care system: one with higher quality and lower costs by clicking.

2010 Health Care Reform Summit

2010 Growing Healthy Kids ConferenceThe 2010 Growing Healthy Children Health Care Reform Summit held August 30-31, 2010 was a huge success. The Summit brought some of the most insightful experts on health care policy to Charleston, West Virginia.

Read the front page Charleston Gazette article about the Summit.  Here are some of the presentations made at the Summit:

Download the reform summit brochure and agenda
Visit the summit website

Early Deaths: West Virginians Have Some of the Shortest Life Expectancies in the United States

Short Life ExpectancyWest Virginians have life expectancies that are below the national average, and southern West Virginians have some of the lowest life expectancies in the country, particularly women. These are some of the findings of a report issued in September, 2008 by West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC).
 pdf  Read the Report          Study the Raw Data

Fat, Fatter, Fattest: West Virginia is a Leader

obesityThe explosion of obesity in the states can be graphically seen in these charts. Every state has seen a dramatic increase in obesity rates. Unfortunately, West Virginia has been, and continues to be, a leader in percentage of the population that is obese. It’s time that the legislature takes action to provide consumers with information at the time of purchase the numbers of calories in the food that chain restaurants sell.
pdf  View the Charts 

Prescription Drug Trends

Kaiser LogoThis is a Kaiser Family Foundation Report on Prescription Drug Trends.  Prescription drugs are vital to preventing and treating illness and helping to avoid more costly medical problems. Rising costs and implementation of the new Medicare drug benefit have highlighted the need for a better understanding of the pharmaceutical market and for new approaches to address rising costs.

Families USA Counts Deaths Due to Lack of Coverage

Families USA has generated the first-ever state-level estimates of the number of deaths due to lack of health insurance. Their estimates are based on both the Institute of Medicine and The Urban Institute methodologies applied to state-level data. In 2006, there were nearly 1,043,000 people between the ages of 25 and 64 living in West Virginia. Of those, 16.5 percent were uninsured.2 Uninsured West Virginians are sicker and die sooner than their insured counterparts. Read the details here.

Miliken Institute Finds West Virginia Chronically Ill

Miliken Institute logo The Milken Institute found that West Virginia had the highest incidents of seven chronic illnesses in the country. These seven illnesses listed in order of number of cases in West Virginia are: pulmonary conditions, hypertension, mental disorders, heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke. These conditions shorten lives, reduce quality of life, and have a significant and negative impact on businesses. While West Virginia spends $2.3 billion on treating these seven illnesses, it cost businesses $8.1 billion in lost productivity from these illnesses. The West Virginia data can be found here.

Who Has the Best?  U.S.?

Commonwealth FundMany Americans believe that we have the best health care system in the world. The Commonwealth Fund, a national health care research organization, studied the health care systems of six different countries: Austria, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, England and the United States. The report examined Quality of Care, including right care, safe care, coordinated care, and patient-center care, as well as access, efficiency, equity, and long, healthy and productive lives. Despite spending almost double the average of these five other countries, the United States was rated last or second to last on all but one of these criteria. Canada didn’t do much better. They were rated fifth out of the six countries. England was the first rate country, followed by Germany, with Australia and New Zealand tied for third place. You can read the entire Mirror, Mirror on the Wall report, or click on a chart that summaries the report.

Advance Directives

Advance DirectivesBecause most health care dollars are spent in the last few months of life, we all need to be certain that we get only the care we need and the care we want.  Each of us should have a living will and medical power of attorney.  A living will tells your doctor what life-prolonging interventions you want to be used if you are terminally ill or in a persistent vegetative state.  A medical power of attorney gives someone whom you select the right to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to do so.  The West Virginia Center for End-of-Life Care has all the forms and information you need to make a living will and medical power of attorney or you can download the forms here: 

Who Spends the Most for Health?

Health AffairsExpenditures for health care are concentrated in relatively small number of patients according to a Health Affairs article. Concentration of Health Care Expenses Revisted found that the sickest one percent of individuals use 27 percent of health care expenses. The top 5 percent use 55% of all health carte dollars. By contrast the healthiest 50 percent of the population only uses 3% of health care expenses.  Any effort to control health care inflation has to concentrate on the sickest individuals and to prevent others from becoming this sick. No public policy or amount of education that is aimed at the healthiest 50% of the population will have any meaningful impact on overall health care expenses.

340B Drug Pricing Program Sites

340bWest Virginia’s federally qualified health clinics -- or FQHCs -- are mostly rural clinics that accept all patients regardless of their ability to pay. They provide quality primary care, and have access to what is called 340B prescription drugs. These brand name drugs are priced 50 to 60 percent below the average wholesale price and 10 percent below Canadian drug prices. West Virginian’s federally qualified clinics are well suited to provide the state’s residents with quality, low cost primary care. We should actively encourage their use. A list of the West Virginia clinics that dispense 340B drugs can be found here.