Health care advocates raise concerns about expiring insurance subsidies

By STEVEN ALLEN ADAMS Special to The Journal
Jun 29, 2022

CHARLESTON — Health care advocates in West Virginia are calling on Congress to find a way to extend health insurance subsidies put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic before they expire later this year.
Read more

Need for affordable health care never greater

By Jessie Ice, P.Hd
June 29, 2022

For many residents of West Virginia, the last few years have felt like one hurdle after another. We have had to contend with COVID-19, the ensuing lockdowns and surging inflation in rapid succession. With these challenges taking center stage, it is easy to overlook a looming health crisis that is quickly approaching.

Read more

Women will be watching

 

 


By Kathleen Stoll
June 29, 2022

 

I get called a “radical” now and again. That is, I call for big change and grow frustrated with incremental change. But my radical tendencies pale compared to those of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

Read more

Advocates urge Congress to address health insurance subsidies as rising costs loom

 

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thousands of West Virginians who purchase health insurance coverage through the enrollment marketplace could face higher costs if Congress does not renew subsidies before the next coverage period.

Read more

Looking for reason in an unreasonable time

 

By Sharon L. Carte
Jun 27, 2022

I am grateful to Kathleen Jacobs (click here to see her story) for her honest, heartfelt and heartening op-ed in a recent edition of the Gazette-Mail expressing her feelings and beliefs on the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.

Though she is pro-life, Jacobs has room to still be compassionate about a woman’s right to choose. It reminds me of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” Truly, because she speaks from the heart, not simply ideas held in the mind, the greater question is raised: What do we do in a society when we hold two, equally important but opposing values? Values, unlike ideas, are not simply matters of reason

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Corporate Greed is Part of Inflation Problem

June 21, 2022
By Kat Stoll

 

There is no debate in my neck of the woods that West Virginia families — especially lowerwage working folks — are struggling with the effects of high inflation on their family
budgets.

Read more

Advocates Seek to Revive Spending Bill with Eye on West Virginia

Bloomberg Government
June 17, 2022 5:46 AM
  • Manchin is key swing vote for Democrats’ signature policies
  • Advocates, lawmakers focus on home care, child care, miners

Bloomberg Government subscribers get the stories like this first. Act now and gain unlimited access to everything you need to know. Learn more.

Groups and lawmakers advocating for Democrats’ domestic agenda, from clean energy to health care, are renewing campaigns tailored to their target audience: Joe Manchin.

Labor groups recently held a tele-town hall for West Virginians to talk about the need to expand home care offerings. The Service Employees International Union recorded a robocall with actress Jennifer Garner, a native of the state, urging West Virginians to call their senators and ask for action on home care.

 

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Big Pharma raises prices because it can

Kathleen Stoll
June 13,2022

I recently ran across ads on social media that oppose congressional action to lower prescription drug prices for West Virginians. Posting under “Alliance for Patient Access,” the ads claim that “Washington is considering walls that would hurt innovation.”

Read more

16 WV groups send Gun Safety Resolution to Congress and State Leaders

June 12, 2022

Charleston, (WV) – On Thursday, June 9th, 16 West Virginia groups and organizations submitted a resolution on gun violence to our congressional delegation, governor Justice and legislative leadership, urging them to take real, effective action concerning the nation’s increasing epidemic of gun violence.

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Time to work together for Diabetes bill

Kathleen Stoll
June 7, 2022

Back in January, I had an op-ed published in the Gazette-Mail that described how West Virginia legislators of different political parties often work together and find common ground to advance good policy. Unlike that crew in Washington lately.

Read more

You can be pro-gun and pro-public health

KathleenStoll
June 2, 2022

Once again, the issue of gun regulation is being hotly debated across the nation — in state legislatures and Congress. Moral voices — religious leaders, teachers, parents — are speaking out in support of gun regulation.

Read more

Democrats are facing a ticking time bomb on health-care costs

Image without a caption
Deputy editorial page editor and columnist|Follow
May 24, 2022 at 5:28 p.m. EDT
You might call it a disastrous “October surprise” for Democrats in this year’s crucial midterm campaign — except it wouldn’t be a surprise at all, and it is completely avoidable.
Read more

Measuring just how hard COVID hit us

 

May 19, 2022
By:  Kathleen Stoll

Two years ago, the United States confirmed its first COVID-19 case. On May 16, we reached the tragic milestone marking 1 million U.S. COVID-19 deaths.

Read more

The Plague of Medical Debt

 

May 12, 2022
Kathleen Stoll

As our nation continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, there is another health care plague that hangs over many of us. Go to any gathering of family and friends and raise the issue of
medical bills. No matter the political spectrum seated at the table — Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal — all will agree that medical debt is an epidemic.
When a person’s medical bills exceed what they can pay, they are stricken with medical debt.  Medical debt can get hold of you from many sources, with the largest portion arising from
exposure to emergency room visits, hospitalizations, dental care and diagnostic tests like Xrays and MRIs.

Read more

A Girl in Trouble

 

May 7, 2022
By Kathleen Stoll

 

I have the good fortune to work on issues I care about deeply. What motivates me is this: seeing our state and our nation someday ensure that every person has quality, affordable access to the health care they need when they need it. That every person can take care of their bodies and minds.

But this week the path forward for achieving this vision for women may have just hit a very large roadblock. Many women — poor women, rural women, women living in the wrong state — may no longer be able to get a full range of reproductive health services. Abortion being one of those services.

Read more

Manchin holds key to fate of health care

 

By:  Kathleen Stoll
April 30, 2022

West Virginia’s many past blessings include senators who used their influence to bring home the bacon” – bring needed federal dollars to West Virginia. It’s impossible to drive for  an hour in any direction without seeing a bridge or a road named after the Robert C. Byrd. The federal resources he brought to our state make a difference in West Virginians’ lives each and every day.

 

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Affordable, quality child care is vital

 

By:  Kathleen Stoll
April 25, 2022

Among news stories about our nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and current low unemployment, one really grabbed my attention. A new report and survey from the National Women’s Law Center shows that women are lagging far behind men when it comes to how quickly they have recovered from the COVID-19 recession — and the lack of affordable, quality child care is a big reason.

Read more

We have to help with care at home

 

By:  Kathleen Stoll
April 15, 2022

For years, I volunteered at an Easter egg hunt for the families of nursing home residents. It brought joy to the residents to watch the kids, but, inevitably, some would spend the day begging their families to let them go home. It was always a bittersweet day.

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Fixing the family 'glitch'

 

By Kathleen Stoll
April 9, 2022

A lot of news recently has featured the health care “family glitch.” In my family, when you say something is just a glitch, it means a small problem and probably easily fixable.

In this case, the “family glitch” in the news has to do with families qualifying for premium subsidies when they purchase health insurance on the state health marketplace. This glitch isn’t a small matter. It impacts more than 5 million Americans – many of whom are women and children. While not small, this glitch is fixable. And President Biden has proposed a new rule to do just that.

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Proposals would be popular if not for politics

 

By:  Kathleen Stoll
April 4, 2022

I have friends and family who will oppose anything that comes out of President Joe Biden’s mouth. It is an unfortunate, crazy, knee-jerk reaction. The degree of political division in this country — and in West Virginia — is wider than the New River Gorge.

Read more

Public Health Emergency Set to Expire, More WV Kids Could Lose Coverage

 

 

Nadia Ramlagan, Producer

 Contact

Friday, April 1, 2022   
In a letter sent to the Department of Health and Human Services this week, the American Hospital Association and other health-care groups asked the agency to extend its declaration of a Public Health Emergency.
Read more

Offering a toast to the Affordable Care Act

 

By:  Kathleen Stoll
March 29, 2022

Twelve years ago in March, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, or “Obama Care," and I raise a toast to this law.                                                                                                                                        

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Kids' mental health going unaddressed

By:  Kathleen Stoll
March 17, 2022

A new report from the Hopeful Futures Campaign found that 21,000 West Virginia school-age kids have major depression. Of these children, 13,000 do not receive treatment.

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Party like it's ARPA day

 

By:  Kathleen Stoll
March 10, 2022

March 11 is a day of celebration for me. No, not my birthday. For this health policy wonk, March 11 is ARPA Day. What, haven’t heard of it? Feel free to send presents all the same. West Virginians have good reason to celebrate with me.

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Legislature should be cautious on DHHR split

By: Kathleen Stoll
March 5, 2022

Shooting fast from the hip works in old Westerns, but in the real world it is just a plain dangerous way to resolve problems, especially for bystanders.

Read more

In WV, money doesn't always equal power

February 25, 2022
By:  Kathleen Stoll

Here’s a story of money trying to buy power. Over the last couple weeks our state has been flooded with social media posts and ads that ask consumers to oppose House Bill 4112.

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Use caution before stampeding ahead on tax cuts

By:  Kahtleen Stoll
February 15, 2022

The West Virginia legislative session reminds me of the Wild West. You never know what magic-show patent medicine will be hawked, or what bills will stampede through the committee corrals.

Read more

Can we vote for Manchin again?

By: Kathleen Stoll
February 9, 2022

 

I voted for Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., when he was reelected in 2018. 

Manchin won’t be up for reelection again until 2024, if he chooses to run. Cross my heart, I am going to remember Valentine’s Day 2022 when the time to vote comes around again.

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Manchin should lead on paid leave

By Julianne Yacovone and Emily Andrews
Feb 8, 2022

As researchers on the front lines of improving child health and creating better jobs, we know that securing paid family and medical leave would have far-reaching benefits for West Virginia families.

Read more

Our Future West Virginia holds call to discuss stories of Medicaid

Posted: Feb 2, 2022 / 11:24 AM EST

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Our Future West Virginia held a call for West Virginians to discuss their stories about Medicaid.

Kathy Ferguson, Interim Executive Director of Our Future WV, held the conference.

West Virginia, along with Alaska, Arkansas, D.C., Delaware, New Hampshire, and Texas, was selected by the Center for Popular Democracy to “capture” Medicaid stories and listen to people about their experiences.

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Controlling Costs for West Virginians with Diabetes Bill Finish Line Just a Few Steps Away

Yesterday, the full House of Delegates voted to pass HB 4252 with 94 Yeas and only 3 Nays (Three Delegates were absent).  Let’s keep the momentum going!  Take Action!

HB 4252 would cap a month’s supply of insulin at $35 (it is now capped at $100) and limit cost-sharing for devices and equipment to a $100/month copay cap for supplies and equipment (including glucometers, test strips, lancing devices and lancets, and syringes).  The bill as passed also has a $250 cap for an insulin pump redeemable every two years.  

This bill has been sent to the Senate and referred to just one committee, the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee.  The referral to a single committee is a positive sign that this bill has bipartisan support in the state legislature (see this OpEd). But our Senators need to hear from us!

Now we need to get this bill across the finish line. It only takes a minute to call and email the Senate Committee Chairs to support HB 4252 here

 

Read more

Worrell's plan could help the benefits cliff

 

By Kat Stoll
January 18, 2022

I first met Samples when he worked for the West Virginia insurance commissioner. He is a sharp and dedicated who cares deeply about low-income West Virginians. I deeply respect how Samples has weathered political change in our state and kept his eyes on the big goals, like reducing the number of uninsured West Virginians. State administrators often go without accolades and, too often, become the public scapegoat for harmful policies they did not ask for or create.One of Samples’ skills is lifting his head out of the daily details of running a state bureaucracy and pinpointing big issues and problems that need addressed.

 

Read more

‘In Focus with KFF’: What to Know About the New Ban on Surprise Bills

Of Interest Header_1

‘In Focus with KFF’: What to Know About the New Ban on Surprise Bills

 

Following years of bipartisan outcry over surprise medical bills, a new federal law that took effect Jan. 1 shields patients from receiving potentially large bills when they unexpectedly receive care out of network. In this new video, KFF Senior Fellow Karen Pollitz explains why surprise bills have been such a major problem for patients, how the new law works, potential gaps in the protections, and what patients can do if they believe they have received a surprise bill.


“This is a really important new protection,” Pollitz says in the video. “People are more worried about unexpected medical bills than just about any other affordability concern.”


This is the second video in our new series “In Focus with KFF,” featuring insights from our experts on health care issues in the news.

Opening Card0
 


Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues,

KFF is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.

kff.org  |  khn.org

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We need on control drug prices

By Kat Stoll
January 8, 2022

 

On the first day of 2022, pharmaceutical companies increased prices on 460 medications, with most prices up5% to 6% on average, according to the research firm 46brooklyn.

I guess that journalists reporting on prescription drug price increases only need to paste in the latest increase to the same headline year after year. This year’s price increases were comparable to last year’s. The number of drugs that had January price increases by year: 629 (2021); 385 (2020); 359 (2019); 538 (2018); and 494 (2017).

Read more

West Virginians positioned to disproportionately benefit from Medicare expansion blocked by their senators

By Mike Tony
Jan 7, 2022

Backing Build Back Better

Jeffrey Gordon, 72, of Morgantown takes the podium in front of the FamilyCare Health Center location on Charleston’s West Side on Dec. 14 out in favor of the Build Back Better bill. Gordon and others expect the plan to lower prescription drug costs under Medicare Part D, one of s projected benefits prompting the bill’s backers to push U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., to end their to the bill.

Read more

Stalled BBBA Could Boost WV Kids' Access to Preventive Care

January 3, 2022

West Virginia ranked 44th in the nation for child well-being, according to the group West Virginia Kids Count. (Adobe Stock)<br />

 Nadia Ramlagan, Producer

Monday, January 3, 2022   

Health advocates say the continuous-coverage provision in the Build Back Better Act - which has hit a dead end in Congress - would benefit West Virginia's kids by ensuring they receive regular checkups and developmental screenings, no matter where they live.

Julianne Yacovone - child health director for West Virginians for Affordable Healthcare - pointed out that kids have year-round health needs, even if their parents' income or employer-sponsored coverage fluctuates.

Read more

Time for Manchin to give us some answers

By Kathleen Stoll 
Jan 1, 2022

 

 

In 2021, I have been lucky to have a few of my opinion pieces on the federal Build Back Better legislative package appear on the Gazette-Mail editorial page. Because I do not believe the debate about Build Back Better is over, I feel compelled to write yet another op-ed. To find the magic words or the right story that will illustrate why Build Back Better is so important for West Virginia families — lower health insurance premiums, lower prescription drug costs, help with the cost of childcare and home health care workers for our elders, and more.

Sigh.

Read more

WV needs immediate action on nursing shortage

By:Hoppy Kercheval
December 27,2021

The country has a nursing shortage, and West Virginia is among the states where the situation is especially acute. Hospitals and health care facilities are constantly trying to fill vacancies created when nurses quit or retire.

Read more

We're not dead yet

By Jessica Ice
December 25, 2021

Jessica Ice

It’s a classic scene from the movie, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” The town crier maneuvers his cart through a plague-infested town, calling, “Bring out your dead!”

A worthy knight brings to the cart a supposedly dead person, who objects, “I’m not dead yet!” The knight replies, “He will be soon, he’s very ill.” The person insists, “No, I’m feeling much better, I’d like to go for walk.” The town crier settles the argument by hitting the poor fellow over a head with a hammer and adding his body to the pile.

Read more

Health care advocate groups call on Sen. Manchin to support Build Back Better

by ANTHONY CONN
Thursday, December 23rd 2021

watch the video

 

Reactions keep pouring in to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's opposition to the Build Back Better Plan, a multitrillion-dollar social spending package.

Read more

No Tree This Year?

 

By Kathleen Stoll
Dec 16, 2021
There is no question that our country is facing high inflation. The 6.8% consumer price jump is the highest annual inflation rate increase in 39 years. Prices for food, energy, housing, autos and clothing are all going up. COVID-19 is the key factor that is reducing world production and distribution, creating goods shortages, raising labor costs and driving up inflation.
Read more

West Virginia is a Medicaid “Leader State”

Hoping Senator Manchin Continues the Tradition of Caring About Our Families

There has been a lot of hand-wringing across the country about our Senator Manchin and the Build Back Better legislative package in Congress. There is no question that Senator Manchin has the future of Build Back Better in his hands. Will he vote for this package of family supports? Only Joe knows…. 

Read more

Meet India!

I’m India Frith, Deputy Story Collection Coordinator, and I’m from Manhattan, New York, but was raised on the West side of Charleston, West Virginia. I graduated from Capital High School in 2019 and plan on attending West Virginia University in Morgantown to study Social Work. I am passionate about pursuing a career helping my community -  which I discovered was my passion after partnering with several West Virginia-based advocacy organizations including Black Voters Impact Initiative, American Civil Liberties Union of WV, Young WV, Gift Project, WV Can’t Wait, and many more. Each of these experiences has helped me to learn, network, and build relationships with my community members. I’m especially passionate about learning skills that will help me encourage other young people and adults to be more politically involved and improve our state for the next generation.

Read more

Saying 'mandate' oversimplifies COVID policies

December 6, 2021

By: Kat Stoll

Sometimes we use a short-hand term to refer to a proposed policy. A short-hand term can facilitate conversation. A short-hand term may reflect a bias for or against a policy. The term can be part of a marketing strategy or even propaganda. Or it can just have accidental results.

Read more

Statement on House Passage of BBB

West Virginia Can Celebrate the U.S. House Passage of Build Back Better

Desperately Needed Help for Working West Virginia Families

Today, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the Build Back Better legislative package and we now turn to the Senate to vote to pass Build Back Better.  Advocates for working families across the nation have their eyes turned to Senator Joe Manchin. His vote is key to moving Build Back Better across the finish line.

Read more

The senselessness of waiting to help

 

By Kathleen Stoll
Nov 19, 2021

It was June 2020. Not realizing how quickly the tide rises in Maine, three teenagers found themselves trapped on a sandbar 1,800 yards off the coast. As dangerous crosscurrents grew stronger by the minute, a 21-year-old lifeguard swam across the channel and brought the youngsters safely back to shore.

“It’s what we’re hired to do,” he said.

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Why Build Back Better Should Include a Medicare Dental Benefit

As the Build Back Better legislative package crawls through the legislative sausage-making in Washington, Senator Joe Manchin has said he opposes a new dental benefit in Medicare. As he explains it, he is worried about the financial future of Medicare.

This makes absolutely no sense at all and reflects an important misunderstanding about how Medicare works and is funded. But because it is the Senator’s stated reason for opposing something that older and disabled West Virginians need desperately, it merits examination.

But first a story. Then a few West Virginia facts. And then back to Medicare’s future.

I have a West Virginia friend who is in his early 70s and lives on a small, fixed income. During the summer, this gentleman started mentioning that he had a bad toothache and couldn’t chew. But he didn’t go to the dentist because he – like many of us - worried he couldn’t pay the bill and didn’t want to ask his kids for help or end up putting the bill on a high-interest credit card.

So he waited. And not surprisingly his cheek started to blow up and he ran a fever and felt pretty durn sick.

That forced him to the dentist. Maybe because he waited, the tooth had to pulled.

The dentist said that in order for my friend to chew properly, he needed a single tooth bridge. Nothing fancy. No tooth implant. And because my friend likes to eat, he agreed. The bill was $2600. And yes he did end up using a high-interest credit card to pay the dentist.

If my friend had needed a tooth next to the first one extracted as well, and a double bridge – not a uncommon scenario – he would have faced a bill of over $4,500.

And what if this senior citizen had been too worried about the bill and waited even longer to go to the dentist? He could have ended up in the hospital very sick from an infection that traveled from his mouth to his respiratory system, and or to his heart or brain. And the resulting cost to Medicare of a hospital stay and treatment would have been much, much higher. 

This gentleman’s story is not unique. 45 percent of West Virginians don’t see a dentist annually, even before the COVID pandemic. 26 percent of West Virginians lost all of their teeth; 56 percent lost 6 or more teeth. West Virginia is ranked at the bottom among the states and D.C. for overall oral health.

Now back to Senator Manchin’s concern about Medicare’s future – about Medicare solvency.

The technical 2021 Medicare Trustees report is the source of the concern about Medicare’s financial status. While full of caveats, the report projects a depletion of Medicare Part A trust funds by 2026 and suggests that this shortfall will need to be addressed with federal legislation. I agree. Limiting the profitability of Medicare Advantage plans is on my list of recommended fixes.

Here’s the misunderstanding. Part A pays only for hospitalizations. A Medicare dental benefit is NOT paid through Part A. Funding for a dental benefit would be paid through Part B, which pays for most outpatient care. Part B solvency is not at risk since it is funded through general revenues and premiums.

A dental benefit would strengthen Medicare’s Part A solvency by reducing hospitalizations and emergency room use triggered by untreated oral disease. A 2021 Avalere Health study that looked only at Medicare enrollees with diabetes and heart disease found a dental benefit could save Medicare at least $63 billion in 10 years.

Senator Manchin needs to understand that a Medicare dental benefit is one way to strengthen Medicare Part A solvency. 

If Senator Manchin does not want to make the upfront investment that will save Medicare money in the long run, then I’d suggest that he at least consider a compromise position. Perhaps a new Medicare dental benefit could have an initial annual or life-time cap per enrollee. I don’t like this idea, but it would limit the cost of a new dental benefit. If nothing else, perhaps the Build Back Better package could include a robust demonstration program that would (once again) show the long-term savings that a dental benefit could bring to Medicare.


The vote is expected to happen today (or very soon)

As the United States House of Representatives is poised to pass the Build Back Better legislative package, you may be wondering what health provisions remain in the compromise version. The vote is expected to happen today (or very soon); some moderate House Democratic members would like to see the Congressional Budget Office score on the package before the House votes. So below is a quick summary of the Build Back Better health provisions  – with thanks to our allies at Families USA.

Read more

Medicare expansion, “Build Back Better,” may stall over dental benefits

Read more

Call to Action

T

HERE HAS NEVER BEEN A MORE IMPORTANT TIME TO
CALL SENATOR MANCHIN


The Build Back Better legislative package (BBB) that includes historic programs to support families is on the move in Congress. A scaled-back compromise framework was released last week

Please call Senator Manchin:
Charleston office: 304-342-5855
D.C. office: 202-224-3954

Click here to email Senator Manchin 

The BBB is a huge step in the right direction for West Virginia families and for advancing clean energy.  

Read more

Latest compromise will still help West Virginia

Oct 30, 2021
kathleen stoll
My mom always reminded me that “you win some, you lose some” when it comes to politics and life.

Back in 2008, that 80-plus-year-old woman knocked on hundreds of doors to support her candidate for the President of the United States. Mom’s motivation was to see in her lifetime a woman President.

Mom wasn’t a radical progressive or hard-core feminist. But she did understand working to help our family make ends meet. She personally understood the struggles of balancing work and family. At one point, Mom worked in retail sales at J.C. Penney. And I remember that my impression was that she liked the job; we were proud when she received a raise with the new title “accessories manager.”

Read more

Statement of Dr. Jessica Ice of Build Back Better

 

October 28, 2021                                                                                             
Contact:  Jessica Ice, Ph.D.
Executive Director
304.322.0074

Build Back Better Negotiated Compromise Framework Released Today

Statement of Jessica Ice, Ph.D., Executive Director

West Virginians for Affordable Health Care

 

Today President Biden and key leaders in Congress presented a framework that represents the negotiated compromise “Build Back Better” federal legislative package that is expected to be voted on next week. 

Read more

Sen. Joe Manchin wants to restrict who gets the child tax credit. These West Virginians would be affected if he prevails.

Manchin supports new requirements for the expanded child tax credit that would likely end the benefit for thousands of families in his state.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Cable news flickered on the flat-screen television in Ruth and James Jones’s living room. The CNN ticker read: “Biden lowers spending bill price in effort to lure Manchin and Sinema.” The couple watched and listened.

They are raising two grandchildren, ages 10 and 17, on a limited income — James’s part-time earnings as an Applebee’s cook and Ruth’s Social Security payments. Like thousands of other West Virginians, their financial burden has been eased since July by monthly federal payments, championed by the Biden administration, to support families with children. Now, however, those funds — which total $500 a month — could vanish if lawmakers agree to the demands of their own U.S. senator, Joe Manchin III.

Appearing on CNN in September, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia implied that he would not support extending the monthly payments, which come in the form of an expanded child tax credit (CTC), without changes. “There’s no work requirements whatsoever,” he said. “There’s no education requirements whatsoever for better skill sets. Don’t you think, if we’re going to help the children, that the people should make some effort?”

Read more

West Virginians need expanded child tax credit

By Kathleen Stoll

October 23, 2021


Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., keeps talking about W-2 forms. Maybe it is just me, but this seems off-kilter.

Yes W-2s — those forms that show your earnings over the past year and that you include with your income tax forms. Joe is talking about W-2s in the context of a key program to help kids that is in the Build Back Better legislative package. The package is being hotly debated in Congress right now and Manchin is at the very center of the debate. Manchin wants to restrict the child tax credit so it only supports kids in families where a parent has a W-2.

 

Read more

Over-65-year-olds make up 20 percent of West Virginia’s population

My friends and I hate to admit it – we believe that a person is only as old as they feel – but judging by our birthdays we all qualify as elders.  Elders sounds so much more dignified than “old” right?   

Read more

It’s Sill About Jobs

By Kathleen Stoll
October 12, 2021

 

 

Two wise West Virginians told me the same thing about what matters most to them and a positive future for our state.

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Domestic Violence in West Virginia

 

 

 

 

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Cody Nunley: Better access to higher education crucial to WV

Every family I know has someone who has been affected by the drug crisis.

For me, it started when I was really young. As I grew up, my situation at home made me anti-social. I always wanted to be by myself. I didn’t want to bring friends home and have them see my mom on drugs. It affected me socially. And if you can’t trust the people you love, you can’t trust anybody.

Read more

 

Someone you know will be helped by Build Back Better

By Kathleen Stoll
Oct 2, 2021

 

I understand that no one wants to read an op-ed that is just a bunch of bulleted facts. Message gurus tell us that we need to use stories to trigger activity in the parts of our brain that stimulate empathy.

Read more

Senator Manchin - What Help to Working West Virginians do YOU Want to Take Away?

I believe in democracy and that elected officials are beholden to their constituents.  When I am really excited about something going on in Congress, I let my federal representatives know where I stand. My momma taught me that educated engagement is real patriotism.

Read more

So Much Rests in One Man's Hands!

Senator Manchin’s hands!

The Build Back Better package – the budget reconciliation package – puts working families before billionaires and rich corporations.  

But Joe wants to shrink the package and CUT programs that help working West Virginia families.

Read more

Stop The Insanity! Create A “New” Normal

    • Sep 25, 2021

Stop the insanity! As the pandemic surged, elected officials prevented economic crisis and human suffering. Now, many emergency actions will expire. Sadly, too many West Virginia families and children are caught between partisan economic policies and their well-being. These same officials need to act now.

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Broadband Access is Essential in Health Care

Accessing health care in rural areas presents a challenge for everyone but hugely impacts people of lower socioeconomic status. People in rural communities have longer commutes to their nearest hospital.

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Joe Says "Hit the Pause Button"

 
 

Joe says "Hit the Pause Button" 

We say “WHOA JOE" 

Don’t Leave Working West Virginia Families in the Dust
 
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This is so frigging exciting!

President Biden’s Build Back Better has taken a step forward from campaign vision to reality.

 

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A West Virginia M-WIN Story

*Beth is a disability rights advocate who formerly served West Virginia as a 911 emergency dispatcher for 28 years. She agreed to speak with us on what would have been her daughter *Amy’s 41st birthday. Beth also requested that we share her story anonymously. Her name, and the names of her daughter and son-in-law have all been changed to protect their privacy. 

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Happy 56th Birthday to Medicaid and Medicare! Why I Celebrate Medicaid

 

I started to draft a blog with a bunch of statistics about how critical Medicaid is to West Virginia.  Chances are that if you are reading this West Virginians for Affordable Health Care blog, you are familiar with a least some of these stats already.

 

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So Far So Good: Update on Congressional Action The bipartisan “hard” infrastructure investment package:

This week it may seem like we saw a setback in the Senate when the vote to move the federal infrastructure package failed.  This is the package of legislation that is moving through Congress to provide funding for “hard” infrastructure – think roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, energy advancements, broadband investments for rural areas, etc.  But the failed vote really wasn’t a defeat at all. Let me explain.

 

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You May Get a Call From Us!

 

This week, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care will be calling our family, friends, and neighbors to ask them to help us send an important message to Senator Manchin:  please support fair share taxes for big corporations and billionaires so that our nation can invest in programs that help working families.

 

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Helping Make Higher Education More Affordable for West Virginians

Over the summer, the U.S. Congress will be debating the provisions of President Biden’s proposed American Families Plan (AFP). Ultimately, the passage of all or part of the American Families Plan will happen through the federal budget resolution and reconciliation process.

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Medicaid can be life-changing for West Virginians

Today, we share the story of Donna and Todd from Kearneysville, West Virginia.  Every story helps us show policy-makers how important Medicaid is to our families, and that is key to fighting to keep and improve Medicaid in West Virginia. 

Do you have a Medicaid story to share? Connect with our storyteller, Mariah Plante, to arrange a time to talk about your experiences and how your story can become a powerful advocacy tool.  

 

 

Donna and Todd 
Berkeley County, West Virginia 



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Hunter’s Story

Meet Hunter Starks:  A West Virginia Medicaid Ambassador

 

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Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  West Virginians for Affordable Care put out this statement on the Court’s decision. 

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Paid Family and Medical Leave Provision in the American Family Plan

I would like to introduce myself. I am Stephanie, the new policy intern at West Virginians for Affordable Health Care (WVAHC). My passion for policy and advocacy work started when I was a Social Work undergraduate at Concord University.

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Now Available: American Rescue Plan WV County and City Funds Tool Kit

Frontline health care providers train themselves to stay calm and not get excited.  But last Thursday, a group of such providers from Morgan, Berkeley, and Jefferson Counties sounded pretty durn excited during a brainstorming session health by the Eastern Panhandle Health Work Group. 

 

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Open Enrollment Continues

5 Things to Consider

 

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American Families Plan

Last night President Biden made his first speech to Congress and presented his vision for how we can “grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out.” A transcript of his remarks is here.

 

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Proposed Tax Changes in WV Legislature Puts Federal COVID Rescue Funds in Jeopardy

House Votes 0-Yeas and 100-Nays on the Governor’s Tax Shift Proposal

This is our fourth blog on the proposals to phase-out the state personal income tax and raise the retail sales tax in the West Virginia legislature.  It all started with a proposal from Governor Justice.  Then the state legislature tried to make his unworkable proposal somehow work.  The House passed its own version, HB 3300.  Next the Senate Finance Committee came up with its own version, Amended HB 3300, which passed the full Senate.  That version then moved back to the House for a vote.  Whew.



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Let's talk about the Medicaid Cliff

The ‘Medicaid Cliff’ represents the tipping point at which some people find themselves at the very edge of income eligibility for the Medicaid program. In West Virginia, that’s 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (for an individual in 2021, that is $17,609 a year, for a family of two it is $23,792, for a family of three it is $29,974). 

 

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Update on PIT

Update on HB 3300  

Passed in the WV House:   Tax breaks for the richest and the rest of us left to fend for ourselves

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.  Super-majority control gives one party – in this case the Republicans - a free hand to move forward a bill without any support or effort at compromise with other parties. 

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House Passes HB2266

WVAHC would like to thank the West Virginia House of Delegates, bill sponsors, Health and Finance committee chairs and members, for passing HB2266, which expands Medicaid coverage for women up to 300% of the federal poverty level for a year postpartum.

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On the Table in our State Legislature

On the table in our state legislature:

Tax breaks for the richest and an empty plate for you and me

On February 26th, I shared my deep concerns in a blog here about Governor Justice’s proposal to eliminate the state personal income tax and bankrupt our state.  Since that time, variations on his proposal have been popping up like poisonous mushrooms after a spring thunderstorm.  

 

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Good News Update!

More Good News:  ACA Marketplace Plans More Affordable

In my March 21 blog, I outlined how the American Rescue Plan Act builds on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) state marketplaces and the premium tax credits. Now some more good news!  

 

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American Rescue Plan

American Rescue Plan – Health Provisions

“Yee Haw” for Help for West Virginians

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP), a package of positive financial relief for West Virginia families and for state and local government.

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Postpartum Care

There has been a conversation within several of West Virginia’s nonprofit organizations on how to address Maternal Morbidity. Obviously, no one wants to see unnecessary deaths if they can be prevented, especially if the reason is that the individual simply cannot afford their postpartum care and are therefore not receiving the healthcare they need.

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Thank you Senator Manchn!

The U.S. House of Representatives formally passed the final version of the American Rescue Plan legislative package today.  This package will provide much-need financial relief to our nation as we continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic.  President Biden is expected to sign the Act into law on Friday, March 12th.

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Hello!

Hello fellow health care advocates!  Mariah Plante here, Kanawha County native, theatre artist, and, most recently, Story Collection Coordinator for West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.

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Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility SB 354

Medicaid Presumptive Eligibility – Good Policy for West Virginia

A bill was introduced in the West Virginia legislature which would eliminate Medicaid presumptive eligibility for adults at hospitals.  SB 354, introduced by Senator Chandler Swope (R - Mercer, 06), is just a plain bad bill that would take away a very good policy for low-income West Virginians.  

 

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Support HB2708

State Legislature Considers Bill to Help Cap Costs for West Virginians with Diabetes

Living with diabetes is an expensive proposition. It is estimated that one in four health care dollars is spent on diabetes related issues. West Virginia took two steps forward in the 2020 legislative session to address high prescription drug costs for West Virginia families, both with bipartisan support:

  1. The legislature passed the “Requiring Accountable Pharmaceutical Transparency, Oversight, and Reporting Act” law which requires drug manufacturers and health benefit plan issuers who sell prescription drugs in West Virginia to provide cost information, changes in cost information, and prescription drug statistics to the State Auditor who will publish the data on a public website in June 2021.  
  2. The legislature passed a private insurance insulin copayment cap of $100 per month. 
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Proposed Income Tax Cut

Every year I get very excited about the state legislative session – which started a little later this year on February 10.  We all have our lists of great bills we hope to move through the legislative process. This is democracy in action!  And of course with COVID-19 it is going to take the virtue of patience with virtual!  

 

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Medicaid State Plan Amendments and Waivers? Part 1

The Medicaid program exists in every state in the nation.  Yet there is an old saying among Medicaid advocates, “Once you are an expert on one state’s Medicaid program, you know all there is to know about one state’s Medicaid program.”  Every state Medicaid program is unique.  States have tremendous flexibility in designing their Medicaid programs.  West Virginia can change many aspects of Medicaid in our state at any time.

 

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Welcome to our new website!

I want to be the first to welcome everyone to West Virginia for Affordable Health Care’s new website! 2020 has shown us that we all live online and--just in time--we are starting 2021 with a new, user friendly space where we can share the latest information on the policies at the state and local level. We hope you find this easy to navigate and filled with useful information.

 

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Resources for Caregivers

The staff and members of TEAM For West Virginia Children has put together this resource guide for caregivers in West Virginia.  

During the COVID-19 crisis stresses have increased as we all care for our families, friends, and communities.  The people at TEAM For West Virginia Children have compiled this information for sharing, thank you TEAM. 


Emergency Exit

EMERGENCY EXIT - A HEALTH CARE STORY FROM WEST VIRGINIA

Upon arrival to an accident, firefighters are taught to wait for their incident commander to get a quick assessment of the situation, get their safety gear on (“donning” in fireman lingo), and then jump directly into their rolls such as lineman, the one who leads the charge with the hose.

The day before the West Virginia Insulin Caravan, Roxy Vasil, age 17, was donning his Personal Protective Equipment (PPE - the jacket and pants firefighters wear) and his Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).  Roxy was taking his practical skills test for Hazmat Awareness and Standards of Procedures training.  Roxy joined the Cheat Lake Volunteer Fire Department back in March of 2019 and has been enjoying his time there with the goal of “giving back and serving the community.”  When he joined the bus to head to Canada, Roxy did the smart thing and went to the back of the bus, taking a seat next to three emergency exits within arm’s reach. That way he could best help if there was an accident.

Roxy on the right in part of his Class C from hazmat training.

 

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Exploring the Health Care Needs of Students in Rural West Virginia

 

By Julianne Yacovone, Coordinator of Child Health, West Virginians for Affordable Health Care

I’m not a native of West Virginia. I have an outsider’s perspective on the struggle she state faces—such as poverty and poor health. I’ve come to find West Virginians to be considerably generous and receiving people. Regardless of the challenges they may be facing, they will go out of their way to help you. The statehas faced no shortage of hardships: battling a statewide drug crisis, food shortages, and a lack of mental health care resources have taken a significant toll on its population. In areas where we lead other states, it tends to be in the worst ways. We are first in obesity, type 2 diabetes, Cancer, and drug-induced deaths according to Trust for America’s Health data. West Virginia is also the top state for child removals, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources WVDHHR, with a shocking 85% of those removals being drug related. Nearly 6800 of West Virginia’s kids were placed in foster care in the month of August, 2019 alone.

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Jenny's Story

JENNY'S MEDICAID STORY: “LOOKING BACK, IF I DID NOT HAVE MEDICAID, I WOULD BE DEAD. IT SAVED MY LIFE.”

Meeting Jenny during her lunch break at her public service job was inspiring to say the least.  As I listened to her story of pregnancy, cancer survival, job challenges, raising children, and taking care of her aging mother, I was reminded of so many other West Virginians who face multiple choices and challenges to keep their family and themselves healthy.

 

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Op Ed: Disability is a Natural Part of the Human Experience

OPED: DISABILITY IS A NATURAL PART OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE

Paul Smith, long-time West Virginia advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, has worked closely with WV Together for Medicaid to protect the program from federal and state attacks and funding cuts. 

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