By Ellen Allen
In the first seven weeks of open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, 18,000 additional young West Virginians (26 years old or younger) have health insurance. The total number of uninsured West Virginians has been reduced by 25 percent.
Covenant House was selected as a Community Assister. We received a small grant of $5,000 from West Virginians for Affordable Health Care to train staff and assist Covenant House program participants into Medicaid Expansion. Covenant House advocates have enrolled 168 people in Medicaid Expansion.
As of this writing, statewide, 54,700 people are being enrolled in the Medicaid expansion; 7,000 are being enrolled in traditional Medicaid; and 2,000 have been determined to be eligible for qualified health plans in the Marketplace. Only about 200 people have been actually enrolled through healthcare.gov for qualified health plans, although 3,800 applications covering 7,100 people have been approved.
Under the Affordable Care Act, West Virginia expanded its Medicaid program to those ages 19 to 64 who make up to about 133 percent of the federal poverty line. The first three years of Medicaid Expansion are entirely funded by the federal government. In subsequent years, the federal government will fund Medicaid Expansion at about 93 percent of the total cost, bringing $52 billion into West Virginia. West Virginia's leaders will have to determine a funding plan for the other 7 percent.
Moreover, the Affordable Care Act closes the infamous donut hole. Most Medicare Prescription Drug Plans have a coverage gap (nicknamed the "donut hole"). This means there is a temporary limit on what the drug plan will cover. The Affordable Care Act has saved 30,000 West Virginia seniors over $30 million.
The sweeping insurance reform is expected to reduce federal budget deficits by $210 billion through 2021, according to the Congressional Budget Office's estimates. This includes $1,390 billion in gross costs related to the ACA's insurance coverage provisions, offset by $349 billion in coverage-related revenues and savings (including minimum coverage provision penalty payments), and $1,252 billion in other revenues and savings.