Highlights for February 19, 2021

The news from Washington, DC is exciting!  The current COVID-19 relief package from the House includes many proposals that will help improve access to affordable health coverage for West Virginians. For our nation, these provisions will extend health coverage to millions of uninsured people and make comprehensive coverage more affordable for millions more. The challenge will be passing the great set of positive health provisions in the House package when it goes over to the Senate.  

Some of the highlights of the House bill include:

  • Increased marketplace subsidies. The House bill would boost premium tax credits for 2021 and 2022, eliminating or reducing premiums for millions of current marketplace enrollees. People with income below 150 percent of the poverty line would pay no premiums for a benchmark plan, after accounting for premium tax credits, and other families would pay reduced shares of income toward health coverage. And the enrollment period authorized by President Biden, from February 15 to May 15, gives people a new opportunity to enroll and take advantage of any improvements to the premium tax credits enacted as part of the relief package.
  • Extension of marketplace subsidies to people with incomes above 400 percent of poverty. For two years, people with incomes above 400 percent of poverty would become eligible for premium tax credits and won’t have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their income toward marketplace premiums.
  • Additional Medicaid dollars for states
    • Mandatory coverage of vaccines under Medicaid
    • New state option for 5 years to extend Medicaid eligibility for 12 months postpartum (up from 60 days)
    • Temporary FMAP increase of 7.35 percentage points for states to make improvements to Medicaid home- and community-based services (HCBS) for one year
    • 30 days of Medicaid coverage for justice-involved individuals preceding their release
    • Elimination of the caps on state Medicaid prescription drug rebate dollars so that states can save more money on high drug price increases

  • New incentive for states to expand Medicaid. The House bill would give states that newly expand a 5-percentage point increase in their base FMAP for two years.  

And progress is being made in West Virginia as we watch the progression of HB 2266, extending postpartum Medicaid coverage up to a year!

In other news:

  • Special Open Enrollment Period for those who need health insurance.   Sign up February 15th through May 15th, 2021 at www.healthcare.gov

  • You can now enroll in Medicaid by phone or online, all year long! Dial Call 1-877-716-1212 or go to www.wvpath.org

  • You may have read in our last newsletter that several c3 organizations have formed a new coalition we referred to as the c3 Table. Well, they have a new name. WV Together. Stay tuned for more details in our next newsletter.

Health Care Storybank 

The most compelling way to define an issue is to tell a story. Add your voice to the health care conversation in West Virginia by sharing your experience. Contact Mariah Plante at [email protected] for more information.