The 2020 Census is just around the corner with a goal of counting every West Virginia resident. The Census determines how much political representation we get at the state and federal levels and how much federal investment comes to West Virginia for programs that fund highways, school lunches, health care, food assistance and much more.
Because our population is so rural, it can be a challenge to count everyone. And an undercount in the Census has a big impact. In fact, a one-percent undercount would cost West Virginia over $188 million in funding for just five HHS programs whose funds are guided by Census data (Medicaid, Medicare Part D, CHIP, Foster Care and Adoption Assistance, and Child Care and Development Fund Matching Funds).
What can you do?
This past legislative session, the West Virginia House of Delegates considered legislation to direct the WV Department of Health and Human Resources to apply for a Section 1115 waiver to implement work reporting requirements on all non-elderly adults in enrolled in Medicaid. The bill would have forced thousands of West Virginians who do not report a set number of hours worked each month to lose their Medicaid health coverage.
Should this legislation pass in the future it could mean many people with disabilities and serious illnesses will fall through the cracks because they will not qualify for an exemption or won’t be able to overcome the red tape and paperwork to prove that they do. Our estimates show that over 38,000 people who gained coverage through Medicaid expansion would likely lose it.
In West Virginia, more than half of adults on Medicaid are already working, the majority in low-wage jobs with volatile work hours and with no access to paid sick time off, making it difficult to meet a monthly work requirement.
Read more in Ted’s blog post.
A new Trump administration proposal would change the civil rights rules dictating whether providers must care for patients who are transgender or have had an abortion. Fundamentally, the proposed rule would overturn a previous rule that forbids health care providers who receive federal funding from discriminating against patients on the basis of their gender identity or whether they have terminated a pregnancy.
The proposal would eliminate those protections, enabling providers to deny these groups care or insurance coverage without having to pay a fine or suffer other federal consequences.
That may mean refusing a transgender patient mental health care or gender-confirming surgery. But it may also mean denying patients care that has nothing to do with gender identity, such as a regular office visit for a bad cold or ongoing treatment for chronic conditions like diabetes. Erasing these protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity is not only discriminatory but against the public health and the mission of HHS.
Read more. Submit your comment to oppose this rule (due August 13).
Wyoming is beginning to see the decline of its coal industry, but its trust fund, started in the late 1970s, will ensure its residents benefit from mining production long after it’s gone. Altogether, Wyoming has about $13 billion in mineral wealth assets that are held in four trust funds used to fund education and general revenue expenditures.
West Virginia passed its own legislation to create a Future Fund but no money has been contributed to it. If West Virginia would have enacted a mineral trust fund in 2012 and funded it with a 1 percent additional severance tax on oil, natural gas, and coal – it would have a balance of over $800 million today, larger than both of our state’s Rainy Day Funds combined.
Read more in Ted’s blog post.
Listen to Charleston Gazette-Mail reporter Ken Ward’s interview with CBS News on the impact of natural gas in West Virginia including an overview of recent lawsuits and a discussion of the potential of a Future Fund.
Our work was cited in two West Virginia Public Radio stories focusing on the aftermath in the community after the closure of Weirton Steel.
The five-part series takes an in-depth look at the impacts to the people of Weirton. Read/listen here and here. One source to the reporting was our 2017 State of West Virginia report which focused on the impact of low-wage work in the state that has replaced good-paying manufacturing jobs.
Last week, the WV Chamber of Commerce celebrated West Virginia’s improving business climate, according to the CNBC Best States for Business rankings. According to the Chamber, West Virginia’s improvement from 48th to 45th is proof that the Chamber’s preferred policies are working.
CNBC’s rankings is one of several in a long line of business climate indexes, all of which fail to show any predictive value of economic growth. Instead, these rankings reflect the case for the policy positions advocated by the organization sponsoring the study, rather than policies that do create economic growth. Since it’s inception, West Virginia’s ranking has hovered in the mid 40s, from 44th in the first edition, to 45th in the latest.
Read more in Sean’s blog post.
Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 231-199 in favor of the Raise the Wage Act which would gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15.00/hour in 2025, up from the current rate of $7.25/hour. Last increased in 2007, the federal minimum wage would have an automatic annual adjustment under The Raise the Wage Act.
While West Virginia raised its minimum wage to $8.75/hour, further increasing it to $15.00/hour would impact 185,000 people, over 25% of our workforce.
None of West Virginia’s House members voted for the bill which is unlikely to pass the U.S. Senate.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed a rule that allows consumers to be subject to a new level of harassment by debt collectors. Once again, the current CFPB is siding with abusive debt collectors instead of protecting consumers.
Let your voice be heard! Submit a comment to the CFPB and tell them to promote fair debt collection practices and protect consumers from abuse. Comments are due by August 19.
We have a great newsletter, join below: