CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Thousands of West Virginians are in danger of losing their health care coverage, unless the legislature takes action. A bill in the West Virginia House of Delegates could keep people from going off what’s known as the “benefits cliff.”
Some of this is actually due to some of West Virginia’s recent good economic news. West Virginia’s unemployment rate is at an all-time low, and that means the demand for workers is going up.
Because of that competition, wages and work hours are rising. Still, many lower wage workers don’t get health insurance from their employer so they have to rely on Medicaid. But with wages going up even slightly, if you make more than 138% of the federal poverty level, you’ll lose Medicaid, even if you can’t afford any other health insurance.
“Instead of making more income at this point, it would be detrimental for me to work more. I can’t risk losing my health coverage,” said Jude Stephens, a Medicaid recipient.
“I have seen people in my area that have quit their job because they were going to be making too much money, and they were going to lose benefits for their family. I actually know people who have done that. And that’s unacceptable,” said Del. Evan Worrell, (R) Cabell.
Delegates are now considering House Bill 3001, which would create a buy-in system where the state would help fund a public option health plan. This potentially affects many people. One-third of all West Virginians rely on Medicaid, and about 24,000 of them are in danger of going over the so-called “benefits cliff,” and lose there health coverage.
Making matters worse, many of those who get kicked off of Medicaid, will also not qualify for the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare, nor private insurance.