February 12, 2021

Some REALLY good news

 For those who are dreading what promises to be a metaphorical legislative bloodbath in West Virginia, here's some good news for the state and nation.

First a little background. A major provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act was expanding Medicaid eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Originally, that was supposed to be applied across the board, but the US Supreme Court made it a state option when it ruled the ACA to be constitutional in 2012.

By now, 39 states, including DC, have extended the coverage, which is life saving and game changing in so many ways, from supporting jobs to opening the door to recovery. You can probably guess many of the states that haven't expanded it if you think of the Civil War. Thank God West Virginia isn't on that evil list.

When Trump became president, a major goal was total repeal of the ACA. It was scary for a long while, but eventually that idea went the way of the whole Mexico-paying-for-the-wall thing. However, his administration did encourage states to apply for waivers that would require people in the expansion population to meet so-called "work requirements." 

These didn't promote work but rather paperwork, reporting and surveillance on a population that mostly consisted of people already working. These would have resulted a huge portion of people in the program being cut off for no good reason. Some states applied, but their waiver plans were blocked by the courts.

In West Virginia, we've worked with allies to fight off at least two serious efforts to seek Medicaid waivers and until today were expecting more, which brings us to the good news part of the program. According to an article in today's Washington Post

The Biden administration is planning Friday to wipe out one of the core health policies of the Trump era, taking actions that will immediately rescind permission for states to compel poor residents to work in exchange for receiving Medicaid benefits.

Federal health officials will withdraw their predecessors’ invitation to states to apply for approval to impose such work requirements and will notify 10 states granted permission that it is about to be retracted, according to a draft plan obtained by The Washington Post and confirmed by two individuals familiar with the decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

So it looks like that's one less thing to worry about. I'll take it.


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