West Virginia Healthcare

By: Jillian Risberg Email
By: Jillian Risberg Email

It's part of the president's Affordable Care Act -- Governor Tomblin recently made the announcement to expand Medicaid in West Virginia.

"One of the deadlines that's coming up for this legislation is an expansion of Medicaid,” says Dr. Dick Wittberg, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department.

A new horizon for the uninsured that have been without for so long.

"Ability of people who've never had insurance to now be eligible for a low cost insurance or no cost depending,” Wittberg says.

The numbers are significant.

"That translates into about 100,000 people in West Virginia,” Wittberg says. “Which probably for Wood County means there's five or 6,000 people out in our community in Wood County that have never had health insurance before but now qualify for health insurance."

First step is locating the pockets of uninsured.

According to Wittberg, one of the big pushes they’re having over the coming months is trying to find these people and get them signed up for insurance.

The health department plans to extend their reach to various venues to get to those who need it most.

"To make sure that we get the word out and that we find a way to get the people who might normally not come to the health department or even go to doctors,” Wittberg says.

It will be several months before it kicks in.

"The insurance wouldn't start 'til the first of next year but we will start probably doing work on this come the middle of summer,” Wittberg says.

Having that insurance will be assurance for the New Year.

"Insurance is usually the gateway to better healthcare,” Wittberg says. “It's been shown beyond a shadow of a doubt that people that do not have insurance do not live as long."

Officials says it’s a step in the right direction for West Virginia, getting those who are uninsured on the road toward better health.

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