Blog Posts > As Pandemic Persists, Open Enrollment Provides West Virginians Opportunity to Access Critical Health Care
November 12, 2021

As Pandemic Persists, Open Enrollment Provides West Virginians Opportunity to Access Critical Health Care

The open enrollment period to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) started on November 1 and continues through January 15. This period allows individuals without existing health coverage to enroll in a private insurance plan or Medicaid – all in one place. As the nation continues to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more critical than ever for our people to be able to access adequate health care.

The health insurance marketplace on allows individuals whose incomes are too high for Medicaid eligibility and who do not receive health coverage through an employer to sign up for coverage through private insurers. Although marketplace enrollment has declined in the past several years, West Virginia experienced significant employment losses due to the pandemic, leading to the creation of a new pool of people who could acquire health insurance through the marketplace. Despite some economic recovery, the workforce is still down 27,700 jobs relative to this time last year. Given these circumstances, many people may shop for individual health coverage for the first time, which could reverse the declining enrollment trend that has persisted since 2016.

The ACA has also been meaningful for West Virginia’s economy, directly or indirectly contributing 16,000 jobs to the state. The overall health care industry makes up one-tenth of the state economy, and it continues to outperform every other sector. The Medicaid expansion alone contributes one billion federal dollars to the state economy every year, illustrating just one of several ways in which the ACA has invested in West Virginians. 

Read Rhonda’s full blog post here.

If you are currently uninsured or anticipate enrolling in an individual plan, online and over-the-phone help is available here. Additionally, a list of local assistants is available here.

What We’re Reading

The Build Back Better Act has long been under negotiation in Congress, but it now appears to have a path forward in the US House of Representatives. The pending bill makes needed and meaningful investments in sectors that for far too long have been neglected, and its passage could transform the lives of millions of Americans. A recent blog post from our friends at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) highlights how the legislation could impact national labor markets. Excerpt below:

Overall, we estimate that the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) will provide support for 2.3 million jobs per year in its first five years. Add to this an estimated 772,000 jobs per year supported by the bipartisan infrastructure deal, also referred to as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, passed last Friday in the House, and you get more than 3 million jobs supported per year.

With the U.S. economy still running at least 5.5 million jobs short relative to its pre-pandemic trajectory, sustained support for job creation is a key benefit of the plan, but the economic impact will be much farther reaching. For example, roughly half of the jobs supported by BBBA result from new and expanded caregiving initiatives for universal pre-K (332,000 jobs per year), child care (574,000), and long-term care (238,000). Good jobs in these industries—where workers are deeply undervalued and underpaid—are just the tip of the iceberg that will also help get more parents back into the workforce and relieve the exorbitant financial burdens of child care and long-term care weighing on working families.

With the plan fully paid for, transforming the U.S. economy to be more equitable, efficient, sustainable, and prosperous should be a no-brainer. Yet there is still more work to be done to meet all of America’s pressing social and economic challenges, and more fiscal policy space available for Congress to pursue those goals.

Read EPI’s full blog post here.

Join Us at Smart Justice Advocacy Days!

The WVCBP is a proud member of the West Virginia Criminal Law Reform Coalition. In January 2021, the coalition hosted a virtual Criminal Justice Reform Summit to build knowledge and awareness of the myriad flaws and prejudices currently ingrained into West Virginia’s criminal legal system. Now, we’re hoping to translate that knowledge into action through the Smart Justice Advocacy Days event. We hope you join us.

To gear up and get organized to advocate for systemic changes to our state’s criminal legal system, the coalition is hosting a series of three virtual learning sessions providing the lay of the land and diving into some issues we’d like to tackle during the 2022 legislative session. These webinars will be followed by an in-person citizen lobbying and story-telling training in Charleston on Sunday, December 5 to prepare participants for our Smart Justice Advocacy Day that will be held on Monday, December 6 at the State Capitol during legislative interims.

We welcome you to join us in any and all ways you are able! Please know that your inability to attend any one component of this event does not preclude you from participating in the convening’s other pieces (all of which are free!). We would love to have you fighting alongside us in whatever way makes sense for you.

Our third and final virtual learning session is Monday, Nov. 29. Make sure you register for the event in advance to receive the Zoom link and password!

You can learn more and register for free here and follow the Facebook event here for ongoing updates and reminders.

If you plan to join us for our in-person days on Dec. 5 and 6 in Charleston, please complete this form so we can have an accurate headcount and ensure we order enough food for all our participants.

Reimagining Justice in West Virginia

Check out this opportunity from our partners at the American Friends Service Committee to participate in an incredible virtual conference on restorative justice in West Virginia. The conference will take place on Nov. 19 and 20. Keynote speakers include Howard Zehr, Kay Pranis, and Ash-Lee Henderson.  

Spaces are limited so register today!

Register Today for the WVCBP’s 2022 Budget Breakfast

Join us for our 9th annual Budget Breakfast!

Each year, the WVCBP holds this event to provide analysis of the Governor’s proposed budget. You’ll hear from our executive director, Kelly Allen, our senior policy analyst, Sean O’Leary, and our chosen keynote speaker, to be announced closer to the event.

Please find further event details below. You can purchase a ticket for the event here.

WHAT: WVCBP’s 9th Annual Budget Breakfast
WHEN: January 21, 2022. Breakfast will be available starting at 7:30am. The WVCBP’s analysis of the Governor’s 2023 proposed budget will begin at 8am, followed by keynote speaker presentation and time for Q&A. 
WHERE: Charleston Marriott Town Center (200 Lee Street East, Charleston, WV 25301)

  • Kelly Allen, WVCBP executive director
  • Sean O’Leary, WVCBP senior policy analyst
  • Keynote Speaker (to be announced)

PLEASE NOTE: The cost of a single standard ticket is $50, but if you take advantage of our Early Bird Special (available to all who register by 12/31/21), you will receive $10 off.

We appreciate your support of the WVCBP and our work, and we hope to see you in January!

Share Your Medicaid Experience with Us!

The WVCBP’s Elevating the Medicaid Enrollment Experience (EMEE) Voices Project seeks to collect stories from West Virginians who have struggled to access Medicaid across the state. Being conducted in partnership with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, EMEE Voices will gather insight to inform which Medicaid barriers are most pertinent to West Virginians, specifically people of color.

Do you have a Medicaid experience to share? We’d appreciate your insight. Just fill out the contact form on this webpage and we’ll reach out to you soon. We look forward to learning from you! 

You can watch WVCBP’s health policy analyst Rhonda Rogombé and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care’s Mariah Plante further break down the project and its goals in this FB Live.

Urge West Virginia’s US Senators to Support the Build Back Better Agenda

Earlier this year, our federal policymakers sent money to families so people can pay their rent and put food on the table, helped school districts protect teachers’ health and get kids back into the classroom, and boosted vaccine distribution—all of which will help accelerate our economy and address the immediate health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

Congress acted because we raised our voices together and demanded help. With short-term relief on the way, now Senator Manchin and Senator Capito need to look to our future and pass economic recovery legislation that ensures everyone can thrive, no matter what we look like or where we come from.

Our elected officials are negotiating recovery legislation now, so it’s time to make yourself heard again. Tell them you want our government to support working families and invest in our economic recovery by making health care coverage more available and affordable, permanently expanding relief for struggling people, and ensuring children get the support they need to succeed.

Please join us in urging Senators Manchin and Capito to support the Build Back Better Agenda by sending them a letter here.

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