Teressa Brown said her adult daughter would be among those gaining coverage through expansion. With two pre-school sons on Medicaid, the daughter is an assistant manager at a Kanawha County dollar store. The $8.50 an hour she earns puts her above West Virginia's current cutoff, the elder Brown said.
Her daughter's employer offers health benefits, but the premiums would take too much out of her paycheck, Brown said. Speaking through tears, Brown addressed Tuesday's press conference. Her daughter was home sick.
"I am begging for Gov. Tomblin to help us," Brown said.
When the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the overhaul, it ruled that states could choose not to expand and not lose current federal funding as the law had threatened. As of Tuesday, 22 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to the expansion and 14 states have rejected it.
The West Virginia Hospital Association supports Tomblin's approach, spokesman Tony Gregory said. Medicaid reimburses providers at rates below the actual cost of services, though hospitals recognize the benefit of increasing the ranks of those with some sort of coverage, Gregory said. In 2010, his group's members reported providing $279 million in uncompensated charity care, to those unable to pay, and another $463 million in bad debt where the hospital unsuccessfully tried to collect payments.
"Expansion should occur only after there's thoughtful analysis conducted by policymakers and stakeholders to make sure the state has the programmatic, operational and fiscal capacity to appropriately do so as the federal funding for the program decreases," Gregory said Tuesday.
State Senate President Jeff Kessler supports expansion, and believes the pending analysis will support that move.
"I would be shocked if it doesn't reveal that the simple math of it is that zero state dollars for three years and on the outside ten percent is not cheaper than the current Medicaid rate that we pay of 28 percent," the Marshall County Democrat said. "So, what's going to happen if we don't sign up, these folks are still going to get sick, they're going to go to emergency rooms and get uncompensated care that we all pick up anyway."