West Virginians Deserve Good Affordable Health Insurance

Nov 22, 2013 Issues: Health Care

Every West Virginian deserves access to affordable and quality health care.  That principle has guided every vote I have cast during my tenure in Congress – helping to strengthen our State’s health care system and expand coverage so that individuals, regardless of their income and location, can get the care they need.    

I am frustrated and upset that the Administration has done such a poor job implementing the new health care law.  That the rollout has been so chaotic and confusing, and that there are bugs in the website, after more than three years of preparation and expense, is ridiculous.  I am trying to turn up the heat on the Administration – it needs to get this thing fixed.     

In addition, shadowy political groups financed by anonymous donors, with origins outside of our State and who do not have the best interests of the people of West Virginia at heart, are exploiting the law’s complexity with blatantly false assertions, and shamefully profiting both politically and financially from scaring the heck out of our ill and elderly.

West Virginians deserve good affordable health insurance.  We have to make this law work. 

I reject the idea that the new health care law must be accepted or rejected in total. There's more good than bad in the new law.  The expanded coverage under Medicare for seniors’ prescription drugs, the additional black lung benefits for coal miners and their widows, and the prohibitions on insurance companies from taking coverage away when you need it most – all these provisions, which enjoy broad support in our State and Nation, are part of the Affordable Care Act and have nothing to do with the malfunctioning website and new exchanges.

The pressure should be on Members of Congress to come together with reasonable folks who want to repair the law and ensure access to quality health care for all.  In many cases, I have cast votes and cosponsored bills, several in opposition to the President, to amend the new health care law to lengthen the transition process and ease the financial burden on individuals and small businesses in our region.

The problem is that the Republican House is focused solely on total repeal, no fixes, of the Affordable Care Act, and the President likewise has dug in, opposing changes to the law that he believes would be detrimental.  That's a big problem – short-term politics is trumping the long-term interest of the American people.

I have been trying to bridge the gap between the two – voting for and supporting Republican and Democratic bills I think will improve the law.  I have been doing so since the law's passage three years ago.  I voted to prevent the IRS from penalizing employers and individuals for not meeting the law’s requirements next year.  Most recently, I voted to allow existing health insurance plans to continue into next year.

I am voting to ensure that West Virginians have the time and information they need to purchase their health insurance.  It is an important decision that people do not want to make lightly.

In our State, the Offices of the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner has responsibility for reviewing plans on the exchange and developing our State's consumer assistance program to help West Virginians find affordable insurance.  In addition, that office is empowered to reverse unreasonable increases in premium rates. I encourage anyone looking for such help to contact the Office directly at 1-888-879-9842, or visit its website at http://bewv.wvinsurance.gov, to inquire about their premiums and whether they may qualify for Federal assistance in purchasing their insurance.

I welcome the opportunity to consider any legislation coming forward to address the flaws in the new health care law.  Time and again, I have worked with Members of both parties and forged agreements on even highly contentious issues and I am approaching this current challenge with the same moderate, bipartisan spirit.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) represents West Virginia’s Third Congressional District.  For more information, contact Diane Luensmann at (202) 225-3452, or visit http://rahall.house.gov.