Politics: Letter to Capito regarding ACA

This is the email I submitted on Shelley Moore Capito’s website this morning (9:00 AM 03/13/2017).  I will update once I receive a response.

Good Morning Ms. Capito:

Both of my adult children are educators.  One is working toward his second degree and to make his ends meet while maintaining a fulltime student status, he substitute teaches.  The other is an adjunct professor teaching art and also teaches an afterschool art program to young children through the Huntington Museum of Art.  Because of both being considered part time, they are not eligible for health insurance through the schools where they teach.  They rely on ACA because in addition to not being full time (though they put in the hours), they earn wages considered below the poverty level, thereby receiving health insurance through the state of West Virginia’s Medicaid program.

With the frenzy to repeal without adequately replacing, this administration jeopardizes my children’s access to adequate health care (my son is asthmatic, my daughter has cysts on her ovaries that requires birth control to stabilize her hormones and reduce the unimaginable pain she would otherwise endure.)  I am terrified for my children, both hard working, tax paying, contributing (in the most thankless way) citizens.  I would like to know what you, as our “voice” from this state, are doing to ensure that West Virginians who need access to healthcare provided under ACA are not left behind.

I would love to meet with you in person, or on the phone, to discuss my concerns and to address how you are working to protect the people of your state.

Thank you,
Michelle Dolin

Response received from Capito on Mar 13, 2017 at 10:18 AM

March 13, 2017

Dear Ms. Dolin,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  I appreciate the opportunity to learn your views.

I continue to believe that the ACA, or Obamacare as many of us know it as, was the wrong approach to addressing health care reform.  In West Virginia, for many it has been nothing short of devastating.  It has meant skyrocketing premiums, co-pays and deductibles for families and small businesses.  It has meant little – if any – choice in insurers and fewer choices in doctors and hospitals as networks shrink and plans become more restrictive.

I also know though, there are those in our state who have real concerns about what this transition will mean for them. This is especially true for those have benefited through West Virginia’s decision to expand coverage through Medicaid.  As we move forward, I am working to balance the health care needs of all in West Virginia and across the nation and ensure access to affordable quality health care.  Still, the reality is that Obamacare is not working for a majority of Americans. With my support, Congress recently took the first steps toward repealing Obamacare and transitioning towards policies that will make health care more affordable and flexible.

Towards this goal, I joined my colleagues in sponsoring S. 191, the Patient Freedom Act, which was introduced on January 23, 2017.  This legislation would repeal Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations and eliminates costly penalties and mandates.  It would provide states the opportunity and funding to ensure those currently covered by the Medicaid expansion are able to retain their health care coverage.

The Patient Freedom Act would keep in place essential consumer protections including the ability to maintain coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, as well as children and dependents through the age 26.  It would also preserve coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.  In addition, it would ensure the continuation of federal Black Lung provisions that benefit many West Virginia miners and their families.

By eliminating the current “one size fits all” approach, the Patient Freedom Act returns authority to the states, giving individuals and families more choices when looking for a doctor and purchasing insurance.  Under S. 191, states would have three paths forward for replacing Obamacare.  First, a state could design an alternative solution that best meets the needs of its population without any federal assistance.  Second, a state could choose to reinstate Obamacare.

Finally, a state could choose a new market-based alternative where it would set its own insurance regulations and be eligible for nearly all of the funding it would have received under Obamacare.  A state could retain the federal funding to continue their Medicaid expansion, choosing to either keep the current structure of the Medicaid expansion or convert that funding to subsidies for individuals to purchase private insurance.

Under this alternative, individuals who do not receive insurance through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid could be eligible for financial assistance. These funds would be deposited directly into individual Roth Health Savings Accounts, which, combined with a high deductible health plan and basic pharmacy plan would create a basic health plan into which states could choose to auto-enroll beneficiaries.   Individuals, if they choose, could then use these funds to purchase more robust coverage to meet their specific health care needs.  The Patient Freedom Act is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Finance Committee.

On March 6, 2017, the House Energy and Commerce Committee released its draft health care plan.  While I remain committed to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and making structural reforms to Medicaid, I believe that any plan that becomes law must adequately protect individuals and families in the Medicaid expansion programs and provide enough flexibility for states.  Millions of Americans receive coverage under this expansion and nearly one third of these individuals have a mental health or substance use disorder.  That is why I joined several of my colleagues in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell outlining these concerns and advocating for flexibility for states to effectively manage their Medicaid programs to best meet their own needs.  Additionally, this letter highlights the importance of a gradual transition period to ensure states have time to successfully implement any changes to the program.

As replacement plans are considered, I will work to make sure that any new law will meet West Virginians’ health care needs.  I am committed to replacing Obamacare with a system that offers more choice, lowers cost and gives patients and families more control.  I look forward to hearing from you again soon and invite you to visit my website, www.capito.senate.gov, for further information and to sign up for my e-mail newsletter.  It is an honor to serve you.

Sincerely, Shelley Moore Capito United States Senator

5 replies »

  1. Thank you for sharing. There are several frustrations many of us are feeling. Republicans are not clear in their messaging, most likely on purpose, because it’s all in word-salad talking points. The AHCA is offering “patient-centered care,” “more control for families,” “care, not [insurance] cards,” but also “access to all.” None of it is painting an accurate picture plus they refuse to clearly own the fact that millions are going to lose coverage. To be fair, it’s unfortunate that some have very high premiums, but at least the Dems own that the ACA needs tweaking, but, as Gov. Kasich says, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And as for Sen. Capito correcting you for calling the ACA by its proper name, and saying it’s called ‘Obamacare’ in these parts or whatever is disgusting to me. I could go on, but I’m done for now.

    • It was a canned response, at best. That length of a response within a few minutes assures me as much. I think the whole reason there was such pushback for ACA is because it was nicknamed “Obamacare.” There are numerous people who do not know the two are one and the same. When DeVos was being debated I wrote a letter on how her vote should be no, for the sake of WV children. Her response was (paraphrasing) that she expected to vote yes on ever nomination. It is incredible the short sightedness that has recently occurred.

      • There is such a strain of arrogance in the administration and the Republican Congress. They speak with such conviction and without concession, and as if they represent the overwhelming majority of this country, as if there will never be another election. Do they know something we don’t know?

    • I also believe that there is a horrible misconception that people who are using the expanded Medicaid are lazy, non-working slacks. When, in reality, that is not always the case.

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