Amid a tumultuous year when national attention once again focused on the issue of racial inequality, our 13th annual State of Working West Virginia report provides robust data analysis highlighting the racial inequity that persists in West Virginia, as well as thoughtful policy solutions from local community leaders.
While the findings provided in this report reflect concerning levels of race-based inequity present in all areas examined, it is important to keep in mind that the data available for use came from even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and was followed by economic collapse. These crises disproportionately harmed the Black community, so it is safe to assume that the extent of inequity has only increased since then.
Find the full report here.
We are now eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic that first started affecting West Virginia’s economy in late March. Since then, the state has experienced huge drops in employment and revenue, followed by a much smaller bounce back, with an influx of federal aid providing a boost.
The stark reality is that West Virginia is likely looking at a long road back to full recovery. According to WVU’s Bureau for Business and Economic Research’s annual Economic Outlook, it could be until early 2023 before West Virginia gains back all of the jobs it lost in March and April. In other words, it could take 33 months to gain back what only took two months to lose.
And it’s important to bear in mind, getting the state back to where it was pre-pandemic isn’t saying much. Getting back to normal in West Virginia means getting back to a struggling economy, as well as a state facing hundreds of millions in budget gaps in the coming years.
Read Sean’s full blog post.
This past Tuesday, oral arguments in Texas v. California, the lawsuit to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA) brought by 18 state attorneys general including West Virginia’s Patrick Morrisey, began in the US Supreme Court.
If all or most of the law is struck down, nearly every family in the United States will be impacted. Twenty-one million Americans could lose their health care coverage, including 198,000 West Virginians, nearly tripling our state’s uninsured rate.
Pre-existing condition protections for non-elderly adults, including 382,000 West Virginians, could be stripped away. Advances in improving longstanding racial disparities in health coverage and health outcomes would very likely be lost. Additional protections at risk include coverage for young people under their parents’ insurance up to the age of 26, preventive care and birth control with no cost-sharing, subsidies to make health coverage more affordable for people who don’t get coverage through their jobs, and a requirement that insurers cover mental health and maternity care.
In West Virginia, there is perhaps even more at stake. Despite partisan divide over the ACA itself, West Virginia’s state lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have utilized provisions of the health care law to provide and expand health benefits that meet the specific needs of West Virginians.
Learn more about what is at stake from our recent op-ed here.
Learn more about why preserving the ACA is essential to protecting people with pre-existing conditions here.
In the wake of the announcement of final results in the 2020 presidential race, the directors of the ReImagine Appalachia campaign made the following statement on behalf of the coalition:
Like most of us, the people living in the Ohio Valley want future generations to have the opportunity for a better life. The high turnout, voting patterns, and exit polls in southwest Pennsylvania, southeast Ohio, West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky, show that many people living in the region are worried about the future. For decades, some politicians and their corporate backers have sown division based on what we look like or where we come from, while they held down wages and shipped jobs overseas. Absentee corporations in the extractive industries have left too many Appalachian communities in poverty by exploiting the region’s workforce while also leaving the land scarred and the environment polluted. During the COVID-19 recession, inequality has grown even wider, with billionaires seeing their wealth rise by nearly a trillion dollars and our region losing another 90,000 manufacturing jobs.
Given our new national political lineup, federal leaders have a golden opportunity to rebuild the region by passing an aggressive climate stimulus that voters of both parties would support. In our region, an Appalachian climate infrastructure program could create over half a million jobs, many of them good-paying union trade jobs and other blue-collar jobs that can be performed safely outside, including:
Read the full statement.
In March, the U.S. Congress and President Trump passed the CARES Act, which provided Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to states to help address the health and economic costs of COVID-19. West Virginia received $1.25 billion in April, of which over $900 million is allocated but remains unspent. Under federal treasury guidance, the funds must be used to cover costs that are necessary expenditures due to the public health emergency, not accounted for in state budgets, and incurred during a period between March 1 and December 30, 2020. This means that West Virginia has less than 60 days to spend over $900 million in a way that targets remaining funds to those West Virginians who need them the most.
The remaining allocated but unspent CARES Act funds represent a significant opportunity to address the extreme hardship present throughout the state. It has now been over two months since federal unemployment support expired. In a recent survey, 67 percent of West Virginia renters said they are at risk of being evicted in the coming months and nearly one in five households with children reported not having enough to eat over the last month.
Take action today and join 30+ organizations urging Governor Justice to support the People’s Proposal to help West Virginians by providing rental and utility assistance, support for child care centers and parents with child care needs, increased payments to unemployed workers, food and transportation assistance, and more.
Read the full proposal here.
Sign our petition here.
Our recent blog post explored how West Virginia Medicaid enrollment continues to rise even as unemployment claims level out.
In the effort to better advocate for improved Medicaid administrative policy, the WVCBP is soliciting feedback from West Virginians who have been enrolled in Medicaid in the last five years. If you or your family members fit this description, we invite you to please complete our survey.
We appreciate your time, thought, and willingness to help us improve the Medicaid experience for West Virginians.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences for many elements of the West Virginia economy, one of the most startling effects has been increased rates of food insecurity throughout the state, especially in households with children.
This year, the third annual Food For All Summit will take a closer look at the cracks in our food access systems that have only been made increasingly apparent as COVID-19 continues to harm our communities.
This free Summit will run from Monday, Nov. 16 through Friday, Nov. 20.
Find the Summit webpage here.
Register for the Summit here.
Did you know that millions of eligible people could miss out on their Economic Impact Payments (EIP) – commonly called “stimulus checks” – because they have to file an online form with the IRS to get it? While most people get their payments automatically after filing a tax return (or based on participation in certain federally administered programs), this group of “non-filers” must take additional action to get their money (worth $1,200 for adults and $500 for qualifying children).
An estimated 115,000 West Virginia residents did not receive their EIP automatically from the IRS, translating to $112 million in lost potential payments. Don’t leave money sitting on the table — if you are eligible, file for your EIP before the Nov. 21 deadline for paper claims.
Please note, per a federal judge’s recent ruling, incarcerated folks are eligible to receive the stimulus check. You can find a helpful list of FAQs about obtaining the payment for incarcerated people here.
Learn more about general eligibility and file for your EIP here.
Join us for our 8th annual Budget Breakfast!
Due to COVID-19 considerations, this year’s event will be held virtually via Zoom.
WVCBP’s analysis of the Governor’s 2022 proposed budget will start at 8:00am, followed by keynote speaker presentation and time for Q&A.
While attendees are welcome to join the webinar at no cost, we hope you will consider supporting the WVCBP’s work and contributing to our annual fundraiser by donating the usual cost of an in-person ticket ($40 before the end of year or $50 beginning Jan. 1, 2021).
We hope to see you there!
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