CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia will pay far less for health-care reform than the Manchin administration originally estimated, according to revised estimates state officials gave legislators Wednesday.
In January, Department of Health and Human Resources officials said health reform will cost Medicaid an extra $25 million to $150 million a year, on average, between fiscal 2014 and 2019.
Now they have revised their estimate to an average of $4.5 million a year.
"That's quite a difference," said Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, chairman of the House Health and Human Resources Committee.
In January, after legislators repeatedly questioned the numbers, DHHR officials agreed to take a second look.
"This is the second look," said John Law, DHHR spokesman. "We are pleased with these numbers."
DHHR staff members corrected mistakes and included savings this time, he said.
"It's been four months since we asked them to revisit these numbers," Perdue said. "They gave us this mistaken information while the Legislature was meeting. So, for three months while we were most active, that same mistaken information has colored the opinion of legislators.
The numbers made legislators more leery than they needed to be, he said.
"When you put that kind of dye in the water, you can't see the bottom," he said. "Now they [DHHR] say they were mistaken, and they give us more solid figures -- but those bad numbers had an impact."
Law said that, in January, DHHR officials mistakenly included all uninsured West Virginians in their estimates, including those who are not eligible for Medicaid. He said the new numbers include only people who are Medicaid-eligible.
The new numbers also factor in cost savings. Medicaid will save $110 million under health reform because hospitals and other health facilities will not have to provide as much free or low-cost service, according to the revised report.
"I'm glad we are finally seeing figures that make sense," said Sen. Dan Foster, D-Kanawha. "This is only a 2.4 percent increase in state Medicaid spending. It's a small, affordable increase for what we're getting."