Blog Posts > New Report Highlights the Health and Economic Importance of Medicaid for WV, Provides Recommendations to Address Program’s Looming Fiscal Challenges
July 21, 2021

New Report Highlights the Health and Economic Importance of Medicaid for WV, Provides Recommendations to Address Program’s Looming Fiscal Challenges

For Immediate Release: July 21, 2021
Contact: Renee Alves, 559-916-5939

Charleston, WV – Medicaid is a federal and state health insurance program that helps low-income individuals and people with disabilities access affordable health care. Serving over 73 million people nationwide, the program provides a range of essential services that may otherwise be inaccessible to these individuals. Medicaid has been one of the nation’s most powerful anti-poverty tools and a fundamental force for improving public health outcomes for over half a century. The program is of particular importance in West Virginia, where 584,000 residents — a full one-third of the state population — are enrolled in Medicaid.

Our new report, Medicaid in the Mountain State: A Health and Economic Necessity, explores the critical nature of Medicaid in West Virginia, both for individual and community health outcomes, and for the state’s economic well-being. The report was written by the WVCBP’s health policy analyst, Rhonda Rogombe, who begins by outlining the basics of Medicaid and its administration and goes on to explain the heightened importance of the program amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the positive economic impacts of the program, the fiscal challenges the program will soon be forced to grapple with, and how these challenges can be meaningfully addressed.

The report’s key findings are as follows:

  • Medicaid is the health insurer of one in three West Virginians. It covers half of births, health coverage for over 50 percent of children, and 76 percent of long-term care costs.
  • Medicaid is both an expenditure and an essential source of revenue for our state’s budget. Federal dollars comprise 70 percent of the total Medicaid budget, bringing critical funds into the state’s health care system and economy.
  • West Virginia has one of the most generous Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rates of any state, pulling down an average of five federal dollars for every one dollar that the state spends on the Medicaid program.
  • Medicaid supports 25,000 jobs and $5.7 billion in direct and indirect economic activity annually.
  • The Bureau for Medical Services, which administers Medicaid, is understaffed by 20 percent; streamlining administrative and enrollment and renewal processes can help in addition to hiring more staff.
  • Flat budget projections, tax cuts, and other policies harm Medicaid’s ability to reach vulnerable populations, both in the short and long term.

This new report displays that Medicaid has tremendous benefits both for our state’s health and its economy, and accordingly, that the program is deserving of sufficient funding to allow it to operate at its full capacity. Rogombe states, “The COVID-19 pandemic confirmed what public health officials have been defending for years: adequately funding public health has significant implications for individual, familial, and community health outcomes far beyond its direct reach.”

You can find the full report here.

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