Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin pressed federal officials for more needed details Monday as West Virginia faces approaching deadlines for several key components of the health care overhaul.
Tomblin, a Democrat, posed 10 questions to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius arising from expanding Medicaid and creating a health insurance marketplace.
An estimated 91,500 uninsured West Virginians would gain coverage under the plan to open Medicaid to more lower-income residents. The state also has elected to partner with the federal government to offer an exchange, which is supposed to allow individuals and employers to pool their buying power while shopping for health policies. The Tomblin administration estimates that between 37,000 and 60,000 people would seek coverage through this new marketplace.
Enrollment for both provisions is supposed to start Oct. 1, with coverage beginning Jan. 1. Monday’s letter cites a delay in the developing of rules and guidance necessary for embarking down both paths.
“We are facing tight timelines for completing required documentation that may ultimately impact our ability to be in compliance,” the governor wrote.
The questions address reporting requirements, the pace at which federal officials will carry out their share of the health exchange duties and details for the on-the-ground officials who will be assigned to help run the exchange. Tomblin also wrote that “many West Virginia families have expressed frustration” as they seek to determine whether they will be eligible for subsidies meant to help them afford policies obtained through the exchange.
West Virginia wants to make sure as well that federal officials don’t roll out new and unexpected rules, the letter said.
“We are dangerously close to the point in time that any new reporting requirements will not be able to be met” for the approaching deadlines, the governor wrote.
There was no immediate response from Sebelius.