State Legislative Session 2021 – Update March 31 “Cross-Over Day”
Here we are at “Cross-Over Day” – this year on March 31 which marks the 50th day of the legislative session. This is the day in which House Bills must pass the House and Senate Bills must pass the Senate or the bills are considered dead for this session. Bills that do not cross-over may either be carried over to next year or have some of their provisions inserted into active bills.
The Cross-Over Day rules do not apply to budget or supplementary appropriation bills.
The legislative session is scheduled to adjourn on April 10, 2021 at Midnight.
Sometimes the legislature can decided during this regular session to call a special session later in the year that brings all the Delegates and Representatives together in Charleston to look at specific issues.
Again, for a complete legislative calendar, contact information for Delegates and Senators, Committee membership, bill status, and other valuable information, go to https://www.wvlegislature.gov/
The West Virginia Health Agenda 2021 defines ten goals and aspirations for legislation that will increase access to the quality, comprehensive, affordable health care that is essential for the economic and social success of all West Virginia families. Many of these initiatives will take several years of education and advocacy to advance to law.
Here’s the short update on a couple of those initiatives in this legislative session.
The Good News for New Moms Moves Forward:
Passed in the House - HB 2266 that extends Medicaid and CHIP coverage for pregnant women from only two months to a full year! The bill passed with bipartisan support – 98 yays and only 2 nays.
For more about this bill and additional resources on why this is so important for new West Virginia moms, click here.
Now is a good time to let your Delegates know that you appreciate their support for HB 2266.
And stay tuned for action alerts on this bill as it moves through the committee process in the Senate. We believe bipartisan support is strong for HB 2266 but we may need you to call your Senators and express your support for helping West Virginia families and new Moms have a healthy start.
And the Medicaid Buy-in Bill is Introduced:
HB 3001 was introduced in the House. Unfortunately, we won’t see the bill move over to the Senate this year. However, we have worked to refine and improve the language of the bill and will be ready to work to advance this proposal next year.
HB 3001 would provide adult West Virginians who currently do not have access to affordable health coverage a new, more affordable, quality health insurance plan option. The plan would cover a comprehensive set of benefits and have low deductibles and copays. The program would ensure affordable health coverage for more low-wage workers who are hurt by the Medicaid “cliff effect” – those that earn over Medicaid income eligibility levels but do not have an offer of affordable health insurance through their jobs and cannot afford the premiums and out-of-pocket costs of a private individual plan. Utilizing Medicaid administrative efficiencies and purchasing power, the plan would cost less per person than existing individual market plans. Lawmakers could explore funding streams for subsidizing the plan to make the premiums even more affordable including pulling down existing federal premium subsidies or considering a state-level funding mechanism.
A Medicaid-to-work transition program already exists in West Virginia but only for people who are disabled or who have a chronic health condition: the Medicaid Work Incentive (M-WIN) program.
Diabetes Copay Caps – Focus Turns to the Senate bill S 694:
In 2020, the state legislature took a step in the right direction by passing a private insurance insulin copayment cap of $100 a month. The bill passed last year was a great victory.
But we need to move forward. Like many other states, we can do more to help West Virginians with diabetes who struggle to afford their drugs and supplies. This session we are fighting to improve copay protections in private insurance for West Virginians with diabetes. See our blog about our next step to help West Virginians with diabetes by introducing HB 2708.
HB 2708 will further cap per month copayments in private insurance:
$25 for insulin
$25 for other diabetes-related drugs
$100 for all diabetes-related medical supplies and equipment
Sadly, this great bill is not moving in the House despite two media events and numerous action alerts generating calls and emails to key legislators.
The bill was sent to the House Health and Human Resources Committee first, and to the House Finance Committee next. Republican leadership - House Health Chairman J. Pack (R) and House Finance Committee Chair Householder (R) - did not put HB 2708 on their agendas for a vote even after hearing from many West Virginians across the state.
To keep this proposal alive, the bill has been introduced in the Senate as S 694.
The Senate bill will need to pass both the Senate Committee on Banking and Insurance and the Senate Finance Committee. We will be posting an Action Alert on this website to help you send emails and make phone calls to the key Senators that we need to keep this bill moving forward.
HB 3300 is HUGE Threat to Health and Social Services in West Virginia:
As we mentioned before, the West Virginia legislature now has a super-majority of Republican Delegates and Senators. This means that in both the House and the Senate, two-thirds of the Members are Republicans. A key priority for Governor Jim Justice and Republican leadership is cutting the state personal income tax.
Our February 26th blog shares our deep concerns about Governor Justice’s proposal to eliminate the state personal income tax and bankrupt our state. Eliminating the state personal income tax will cut the total revenue that supports all functions of state government by about 43 percent. The Governor proposed to replace about half of this lost revenue with an increase in the sales tax – which hits working lower income households the hardest.
A variation on this proposal, HB 3300, passed in the House, 77 yays to 23 nays.
HB 3300 was developed by House Chair of the Finance Committee, Delegate Eric Householder (R). This bill also phases out the state personal income tax. And does nothing to replace any lost revenue. It leaves future state legislatures to find the painful ways to make massive cuts to every state program you can list.
Our blog dated March 26th describes how HB 3300 will give tax breaks to the very wealthiest and in turn, blow a huge hole in the state budget that will force painful cuts to every state-funded critical public service including health programs and higher education.
Now the proposal moves to the Senate for consideration.
A couple possible scenarios for what might happen next. HB 3300 could pass in the Senate without any significant changes and move to the Governor’s desk. Or another variation of the dangerous proposal could be developed. If this variation passes in the Senate, then the two chambers of the legislature must work out the differences and pass the same bill in both. This takes time and the legislature is due to adjourn on April 15. However, the legislature could then finish this nasty business by calling a special legislative session later in the summer to continue work on this dangerous effort to bankrupt our state and the programs that support so many West Virginia families facing hard times.
Stay tuned for Action Alerts on how you can help us fight these proposals.