New health care law seen as challenge, opportunity
10/25/2013 - The State Journal. By James E. Casto.
HUNTINGTON - "The Affordable Care Act has a number of noteworthy flaws, but these will be addressed over time," Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, told a luncheon.
A retired pharmacist, Perdue has served as chairman of the House Committee on Health and Human Resources for the past 12 years. Noting the widespread opposition to the ACA, sometimes called "Obamacare," he said: "Simply insisting that it will not work flies in the face of history, given the fact that a very similar approach in Massachusetts is working."
Perdue was one of three speakers offering their views on the new health care law at the Oct. 16 luncheon. He was joined by Dr. James Becker, medical director for both West Virginia's Medicaid program and state insurance commissioner, along with Joseph M. Letnaunchyn, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association.
Chamber President Cathy Burns said the luncheon discussion was convened to provide important information about the new law and its impact, especially on businesses. "We hear health care questions from our members every day," Burns said.
Like Perdue, Becker voiced optimism that the current problems regarding the new law's startup will be resolved. He compared Obamacare and the accompanying expansion of health insurance coverage to the reform effort that tamed West Virginia's problems with workers compensation.
In 2003, West Virginia was faced with an unfunded liability in its workers comp program that threatened to bankrupt the state.
"Estimates put that unfunded liability at between $3.2 billion and $4.2 billion," Becker said. "We had to figure out a way to control that."
The response was a total reworking of workers comp that moved it from a state-run system to privatization.
"Today we have more than 175 private carriers writing workers comp and the unfounded liability has dropped to well below $1 billion," Becker said. "At the same time, the rates have dropped. When you have a plan and you stick to the plan, you can really change things."
Perdue peppered his remarks with statistics: