July 14, 2014

Epic (non) fail

As Paul Krugman points out in today's New York Times, the Affordable Care Act is significantly failing to fail, although you might not know that by following the media. One place where that is especially true is El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia. According to this article from last weeks Charleston Daily Mail,

6.59 percent of West Virginians are uninsured today; compared to 17.34 percent of West Virginians uninsured before the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Based on the data...West Virginian saw the biggest drop in adult uninsured rate and had the most new Medicaid enrollees per capita than any other stat that expanded Medicaid coverage.
West Virginia now has the sixth lowest uninsured rate in the country.

In addition, the Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), the state's largest hospital system, has seen "a dramatic decrease in self-pay patients, charity care, uncompensated care and bad debt since Medicaid and subsidized private insurance policies started becoming effective on Jan. 1."

In 2013, for example, five to seven percent of CAMC patients were uninsured. In Jan. 2014, the percentage dropped to 1.7 percent and is now around 1 percent. This could mean:

*a $20 million or 35 percent drop in charity care from one year to another;

*a $35.5 million or 51 percent drop in bad debt; and

*a $55.5 million or 43.8 percent drop in uncompensated care.

A lot of credit for all this goes mainly to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who made the call to expand Medicaid in May 2013. But it also should be noted that the WV Department of Health and Human Resources has done a magnificent job of signing people up.

To paraphrase Joe Biden, it really is kind of a big....deal.

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