Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today sent a letter outlining questions and philosophy related to the potential expansion of Medicaid in West Virginia to the Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Gov. Tomblin issued the following statement regarding the correspondence:
"My staff and I have spent the last several weeks analyzing the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. We are taking this analysis very seriously and attempting to balance several key factors in determining how to proceed. At this point, we need more information before West Virginia can make the crucial decisions required by the Act.
"The decision on whether to expand Medicaid for working West Virginians is significant. On the one hand, the expansion would cover well over 100,000 hard working West Virginians and would in turn allow them to begin receiving appropriate diagnosis and treatment at a much earlier stage. In a state where heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions occur at levels far too high, this type of access to health care could provide meaningful improvements to the health of our citizens. It also has the potential to reduce health care costs in the future, saving taxpayer dollars and keeping insurance premiums and copays lower.
"On the other hand, even though the promised federal match rate is very favorable, I must determine whether the State can afford this expansion in the long run. I think we all agree the federal government's current fiscal path is unsustainable. Therefore, I am very cautious in relying on their future funding promises. Before a final decision is made, West Virginia must have a plan for the long-term sustainability of any type of Medicaid expansion. Right now, we don't have the information necessary to make the decision.
"My job as your Governor is to ask the tough questions, obtain as much information as I can, and do what is right for West Virginia. The letter I sent to Secretary Sebelius asks pertinent questions and requests more information. I'm looking forward to hearing back from her, and receiving information to help determine the best way our state can serve its people."