CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Several members of a House-Senate oversight committee questioned West Virginia’s decision to expand Medicaid under the federal health care overhaul on Monday, after fielding details from the financial analysis that helped prompt Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to choose that course in May.
Conducted by CCRC Actuaries with the help of specialists, the study estimates that 91,500 low-income West Virginia would gain coverage starting next year, by increasing the income threshold for enrolling in Medicaid. The analysis also concluded that more than $5 billion in promised federal funds would cover nearly all resulting costs over the next decade.
The analysts believe West Virginia has enough willing health care providers, but Delegate Denise Campbell isn’t so sure. The Randolph County Democrat and nursing home administrator cited her time both as a nurse working in doctors’ offices, and how Medicaid reimburses for medical care at a lower rate than private insurance.
“I live in rural West Virginia, and I know how long it takes to see a doctor,” Campbell said. “They do limit the amount of Medicaid patients that they do take… I, in my heart of hearts, really feel like we’re going to have a provider issue here. Are these people going to be able to have access? Are there going to be enough providers to provide the service?”
Sen. Evan Jenkins expressed similar concerns. The Cabell County lawmaker is executive director of the State Medical Association, which lobbies for physicians. Though a Democrat, Jenkins has also been touted as a potential Republican candidate for Congress in 2014.