By Erica Young
West Virginia Press Association Capitol Reporter
CHARLESTON, W.Va — The Senate Health and Human Resources Committee this week moved SB 564, which would require the Department of Health and Human Resources to extend Medicaid to pregnant women “between 185 percent and 300 percent of the federal poverty level including prenatal care, delivery, and 60 days postpartum.”
The bill was sent to Senate Finance.
Cindy Beane, Commissioner for the West Virginia Bureau of Medical Services, answered questions from Senator Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, about the fiscal impact of the bill, saying the total is $3.4 million with $868,000 of that coming from state dollars.
She also addressed the increase from 150 percent of the poverty line to 185 and said it takes care of a “gap” of women who were not previously covered and makes things easier for them as well as their newborn babies.
Renate Pore, Health Policy Consultant and Advocate, said she had looked at hospital discharge data over the past several years and noticed an alarming number of women being discharged without any insurance and that the Maternal Child and Family Health program in West Virginia covers prenatal care and delivery, but does not pay for any additional care.
She said, “I have personally run into some women who were not covered by any type of insurance and found themselves pregnant and were faced with a huge medical bill.”
All senators agreed that the bill should move on to the finance committee with the recommendation to pass, but Senator Ron Stollings (D-Boone) took an opportunity at the end of the meeting to express why he believes in this bill.
“When people have coverage, they access medical care, and when they don’t have coverage, they don’t access medical care-and if you don’t access medical care when you’re pregnant you automatically have a high risk pregnancy. . .and then two or three months after, making sure these kids get off to a good start and making sure the moms are healthy is very critical,” Stollings said.