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West Virginia: Proposal to Guarantee Access to Basic Care

On April 3, West Virginia's Governor Manchin signed a bill (HB 4021) intended to move the state toward universal access to basic health care. The bill expands eligibility in the State Children's Health Insurance Program to children with family income from 200 to 300 percent of the federal poverty level. This would open enrollment to an additional 4,300 children, leaving only about 800 children in the state without coverage.

The bill includes a pilot program whereby up to eight providers would offer basic health coverage to uninsured residents for a low monthly fee at three clinic sites and/or private medical practices. The West Virginia Health Care Authority would oversee the pilot program, which would begin by July 1, 2007, and last for three years.

A third provision, the Affordable Health Insurance Act, gives insurers greater flexibility to offer limited, "no frills" insurance plans to individuals. The policies would include physician, inpatient and outpatient care, with an emphasis on preventive and primary care. More affordable but with less protection than typical insurance plans, they would be available to adults who have been uninsured for at least the prior 12 months. Another bill just signed (HB 4847, the Affordable Group Health Insurance Act) allows insurance companies to sell scaled-down insurance plans to employers for part-time, seasonal and temporary workers.

HB 4021 also calls for the creation of an Interagency Health Council to lead an effort to assess unmet health needs in the state, and make recommendations to move the state toward universal access to health care.

For More Information
See: Bill 4021
See: Bill 4847

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