Eighteen of West Virginia's delegates and senators are asking Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to expand the Medicaid program.
The letter, sent March 30, was signed by Sens. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall; William Laird, D-Fayette; Ron Stollings, D-Boone; Ronald Miller, D-Greenbrier; Jack Yost, D-Brooke; Rocky Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio; Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson; Donald Cookman, D-Hampshire and Larry Edgell, D-Wetzel and Delegates Don Perdue, D-Wayne; Stephen Skinner, D-Jefferson; Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha; Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia; Mike Manypenny, D-Taylor; Margaret Anne Staggers, D-Fayette; Clif Moore, D-McDowell; Nancy Peoples Guthrie, D-Kanawha and William Hartman, D-Randolph.
In their letter, legislators say expansion to 138 percent of the poverty line under the Affordable Care Act would cover 120,000 uninsured West Virginians.
"Though it will not be easy to offer health care to 120,000 working West Virginians, we pledge to work with you to make the program a success," they wrote.
Legislators also wrote that expansion would be good for the state's businesses and medical workers. The letter cited a Families USA report that estimated 6,200 new jobs from revenue into the health sector.
"Furthermore, we hear from business owners everyday who support this program for a host of reasons," the letter continued. "Small business owners see this as their best chance to make sure their workforce is healthier and better able to keep a job. And big businesses want to make sure that if they are paying into Medicaid, that their workforce will see the benefits."
Legislators continued, saying businesses will save thousands of dollars from expansion because they will be exempt from the Affordable Care Act tax.
"Medicaid Expansion would reduce that financial burden on hospitals greatly. … By providing working West Virginians with insurance, it encourages them to seek better help earlier, and more inexpensively," the letter states.