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WV Bill, American Rescue Plan Bolster Medicaid for Mountaineers

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The American Rescue Plan ensures West Virginians have the option to buy health care for less than 8.5% of their income. (Adobe stock)
The American Rescue Plan ensures West Virginians have the option to buy health care for less than 8.5% of their income. (Adobe stock)
 By Diane Bernard - Producer, Contact
April 16, 2021

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - April is Medicaid Awareness Month, and West Virginia health-care groups are hailing how the American Rescue Plan and a new state law are enhancing this critical safety net during the pandemic for millions.

West Virginia's bipartisan House Bill 2266 just passed the state legislature; it expands Medicaid coverage to new mothers and their infants for a year postpartum.

Julie Tawney Warden, chief operations officer at reproductive-rights group West Virginia Free, said the new law is a major step forward to address the maternal mortality crisis in the state and nation.

"Women in the United States are more likely to die during childbirth than in peer nations," said Warden. "And Black women are three to four times more likely to die of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth compared to White women."

West Virginia mothers whose income is 185% of the federal poverty level can qualify for the new benefit.

The American Rescue Plan is also providing this support nationally for pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid.

The federal stimulus plan also includes measures that lower the cost of health-care premiums for West Virginians buying coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

Lynnette Maselli, state coordinator with Protect Our Care West Virginia, pointed out that more middle-class West Virginians will now be able to get health coverage.

"It improves affordability for low- and middle-income West Virginians by increasing the size of tax credits for all income brackets for the next two years," said Maselli, "as well as eliminates premiums in the exchanges for people earning up to 150% of the federal poverty level."

Now a typical family of four with a household income of $75,000 a year would save $248 a month on health-care premiums. A single adult earning $30,000 a year would save $110 a month.

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