Oct. 21--If the Affordable Care Act is overturned, nearly 200, 000 West Virginians would lose their health care insurance and 16, 000 jobs in the state would be lost.
These are some of the statistics that came out of a Zoom meeting Tuesday held by the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, a Charleston research and policy nonprofit, to draw the public's attention to a Nov. 10 lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to overturn the ACA.
West Virginia is part of the lawsuit.
"West Virginia is facing a major health care crisis, " said Karen Allen of the WVCBP, who served as the meeting's moderator.
The lawsuit, known as California V. Texas, seeks to strike down the ACA--informally known as Obamacare--which provides protection for people with pre-existing conditions, as well as expanded eligibility for Medicaid and subsidies to make insurance more affordable. The ACA, adopted in 2010, also makes it illegal for private insurers to refuse coverage to someone based on medical history.
"We are in the midst of the worst health care crisis since 1918, " said United Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts, one of the meeting's speakers.
"Two hundred thousand people have died and another 200, 000 could die, " he said. "There is no short-term answer."
Roberts said complicating matters is the economy, which has resulted in 40 % less coal being used because of the pandemic.
"There is nothing in Congress to replace the ACA and more people are going to lose their jobs before this over, " he said.
Meeting organizers also expressed concern about how the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg--a staunch defender of the ACA--could affect whether the law is repealed. President Donald Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to replace her and has said he wants her on the court before the Nov. 3 election. Proponents of the ACA fear Coney Barrett--if confirmed--would be the swing vote to repeal the law.
"The carpet is about to be pulled out, " said Dan Doyle, a physician with Cabin Creek Health Care in Dawes, an unincorporated community in Kanawha County. "Around 40, 000 people die each year in this country because they don't have health care."
If Obamacare is repealed, then rural hospitals and physician practices could close, Doyle said. Besides costing the state 16, 000 jobs, there could be $9.1 billion lost in economic output, as well as $438 million in state and local revenue, according to the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund.
"We (50 state physicians) have sent a letter to Patrick Morrisey asking him to take West Virginia out, " Doyle said. "So far, we have not received a response."
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