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Capito: Health Care Bill Will Cost W.Va. Plenty

January 15, 2010
By JOSELYN KING Political Writer

WHEELING - Proposed health care reform presently before Congress could cost West Virginia as much as $725 million in extra Medicaid costs by 2019 under the House-passed plan, U.S. Rep. Shelly Moore Capito said.

Or it could cost the Mountain State more than $147 million if the Senate bill reigns supreme, she continued.

Either way, the price of expanding Medicaid to cover those at 150 percent of the poverty level or less will trickle down to states already grappling with budget shortfalls, according to Capito, R-W.Va.

"The legislation masks some of the costs of health care reform," she pointed out. "If it is to cost the federal government $1.06 trillion, another $34 billion is being passed on to the states.

"They are passing mandates on to the states that are going to be unsustainable," she continued. "The states have an obligation to cover their costs of Medicaid within reason, but this is a mandate. They will have to cover those under 150 percent poverty level."

Capito has obtained figures from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources showing that the Senate version of health care reform legislation will cost the state $147,697,081 as Medicaid is expanded between 2013 and 2019.

Under the House version of the bill, as it is currently written, the expansion would cost West Virginia $725,178,022, it is reported in the data.

The state DHHR attributes the disparity between the two bills to two factors. First, the House expansion of Medicaid would begin Jan. 1, 2013, while the Senate's version would start one year later.

Secondly, the amount of expansion - or the Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage - differs between the two versions, according to the state DHHR. Under the Senate version (House Resolution 3590), the federal/state share of FMAP is divided 95 percent to 5 percent, while the House version (HR 3962) makes the split 91 percent federal and 9 percent state.

"These are pretty staggering numbers," she said. "I'm not certain the states won't have to struggle mightily to try and afford it."

West Virginia officials this year already are contending with an expected deficit in the general fund budget of at least $100 million.

Capito also pointed out Medicaid shortfalls in the state already are expected to be $95 million by 2013 and $169 million in 2014.

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