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Senate health care bill will affect West Virginia’s ‘most vulnerable,’ according to WVU experts

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WVU's John Deskins, Simon Haeder and Clay Marsh
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West Virginia University experts predict dire consequences for the Mountain State if the Senate version of the Affordable Care Act replacement becomes law. With more than half of state residents relying on Medicaid, Medicare or CHIP, the most vulnerable West Virginia residents could lose access to health care. Further, one expert calls the bill “bad policy” that will affect West Virginia’s already ailing budget.

John Deskins
WVU Bureau of Business and Economic Research

“For businesses to locate in West Virginia, owners have to be confident they will have the workers that they need and it is imperative that workers are healthy, drug-free and educated. If this bill limits access to health care, including access to treatment for addiction, we run the risk of having a less healthy workforce, and it then becomes an impediment for economic development.”

Simon F. Haeder, Ph.D., MPA
Assistant Professor
John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics
Department of Political Science

“Both the American Health Care Act and the Senate Better Care Reconciliation Act are bad policy for West Virginia. Fewer protections for the state's most vulnerable populations, dramatic cuts to Medicaid, higher premiums, less coverage. Hundreds of thousands of West Virginians will lose insurance coverage. The state's budget will face incredible pressure, worsening every year due to the transformational changes to the Medicaid program. The state's healthcare system, its clinics, hospitals and other providers will face dramatic financial pressure and many may close their doors. Even those with employer-provided care are bound to lose benefits and protections. 

“Most astonishingly, much of the bills as written are simply poor policy. The provision to maintain continuous coverage or be excluded from health insurance is one of the most startling examples. Even without coverage, individuals will still get sick and seek care from West Virginia's providers. Lack of insurance simply means that the state's healthcare system will face greater fiscal stress.”

Clay Marsh, MD
Vice President and Executive Dean Health Sciences
Professor of Medicine
Media inquiries for Marsh should be directed to Tara Scatterday 304.293.0630;

“We recognize the economic challenge of healthcare and the important work that our state and federal government must do to balance the needs of our citizens. While we focus on building strong communities of connection, purpose, hope and health, we are aware of the needs of our most vulnerable — children, pregnant women, elderly, addicted and chronically ill. Coverage expansion through Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP and other policy considerations has allowed these vulnerable citizens to have access to life saving care. For states like West Virginia, more than half of our population depends on these programs for care. Maintaining funding for insurance coverage and investing in a brighter future of education, jobs and hope will reduce costs, save lives and change futures.”

West Virginia University experts can provide commentary, insights and opinions on various news topics. Search for and expert by name, title, area of expertise, or college/school/department in the Experts Database at WVUToday.