Blog Posts > Senate Committee OK’s Bill to Provide Medicaid Dental Benefits
February 14, 2020

Senate Committee OK’s Bill to Provide Medicaid Dental Benefits

On Thursday, SB 648, which would provide for dental benefits for 300,000+ adults who rely on Medicaid, passed the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee. West Virginia is an outlier in not covering this critical health care provision, with 35 states offering more dental benefits under adult Medicaid than West Virginia. Read more about how providing dental benefits would impact West Virginians here.

In committee, Senators and medical experts lifted up the importance of dental benefits in improving overall health, managing chronic conditions, and reducing emergency room utilization. Next, the bill goes to Senate Finance, and according to the legislative calendar, must be passed out of committee by February 23 in order to keep moving.

Call to action: Contact members of Senate Finance and ask them to put SB 648 on the agenda.

Other good health bills introduced and could use your support:
HB 4416 extending postpartum Medicaid coverage to one year is inHouse Finance
SB 543 to establish a Minority Health Advisory Team is in Senate Health and Human Resources

HB 4189, paid parental leave for state employees and public school teachers, is in House Finance.

Paying Our Fair Share

With the 2020 Legislative Session well past its half-way mark, we are closely monitoring bills and resolutions, like SJR 8, which would provide tax cuts to corporations while the rest of us pick up the tab. To pay for this tax cut, legislators are proposing an increase to the sales tax, among other measures. 

Our personal income and sales taxes already provide 70% of the revenue that makes up the state budget. Working West Virginians already pay their fair share.

In fact, an important new study finds that West Virginia spends among the highest per capita of all states on business tax incentives, despite a lack of evidence that firm-specific tax incentives increase broader economic growth at the state and local level.

Trouble Ahead: The West Virginia FY 2021 Proposed Budget

Governor Jim Justice’s FY 2021 budget is largely unchanged from FY 2020, with stagnating revenues preventing any major new spending and one-time budget maneuvers preventing any spending cuts. While the FY 2021 budget is stable because of a large surplus in Medicaid, the state faces significant budget gaps in the coming years that may require more revenue if the state wants to avoid large cuts to important programs and services. 
Read Sean’s full report released yesterday.

Key Findings

  • General Revenue collections are expected to be down $56.8 million in FY 2021, leading to an overall flat budget from FY 2020
  • $108 million in one-time, surplus Medicaid funds are being used to prevent budget cuts.
  • Severance tax revenues are projected to decline sharply in FY 2021, $106 million below FY 2020 estimates. Due to the reduction of the severance tax on steam coal, this trend will likely continue for years to come.
  • Slow revenue growth is resulting in no reinvestment in higher education and several other budget areas.
  • Despite little new spending, West Virginia faces significant budget gaps in the coming years. This could be made worse by proposed business tax cuts currently under consideration by the 2020 legislature.  

Congratulations, Kelly!

This week, Kelly Allen became the WVCBP’s new Interim Deputy Director. Kelly will help guide the organization over the upcoming year. She will continue to maintain her role as our Director of Policy Engagement, as well, wearing both hats and keeping our health care agenda and other important work moving forward.

Old Partnership, New Name

The WVCBP is proud to partner with Our Future West Virginia, formerly known as the WV Healthy Kids and Families Coalition and Our Children Our Future.

This week they publicly kicked off their new logo and website.

The impactful work of the Our Future West Virginia staff goes far beyond the state’s border, illustrated by staffer Amy Jo’s recent testimony before Congress. Her words have sparked national reaction and are helping to change the way our leaders talk about poverty.

If you haven’t listened to it yet, please do. It will inspire you.

It’s Time to Register for the 2020 Summer Policy Institute

Registration is now open for this year’s Summer Policy Institute! Join us at Fairmont State University this July for a great weekend of policy discussion and networking!

Register here

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