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  5. West Virginians will see the biggest spike in Obamacare premiums within months if Manchin keeps blocking Biden's economic agenda

West Virginians will see the biggest spike in Obamacare premiums within months if Manchin keeps blocking Biden's economic agenda

Joseph Zeballos-Roig,Madison Hoff   

West Virginians will see the biggest spike in Obamacare premiums within months if Manchin keeps blocking Biden's economic agenda
  • In West Virginia, Obamacare premiums would spike $1,536 on average if stimulus aid expires.
  • A new Families USA report has new projections on healthcare insurance costs if Democrats fail to extend federal aid.

West Virginians are poised to experience the steepest increase in health insurance premiums in the nation if Sen. Joe Manchin blocks Democrats from enacting swaths of their stalled economic agenda in the next few months.

That's according to a new report released Monday from liberal group Families USA on estimated Obamacare premium hikes if Democrats are unable to extend Affordable Care Act subsidies set to expire at the end of 2022. The temporary initiative under last year's stimulus law made health insurance cheaper for millions of people who buy their own coverage through the ACA — either on state marketplaces or the federal exchange on

Democrats had intended to renew the program for at least four more years under the House-approved Build Back Better plan. But Manchin sank it and Democrats have not attempted to advance a smaller version in the 50-50 Senate.

In West Virginia, people would see an average premium hike of $1,536 per person, per the Families USA data. Wyoming and Delaware would experience the second and third biggest premium increases respectively.

Stan Dorn, Director of the National Center for Coverage Innovation at Families USA, said in an email the enormous hike stems from premiums generally being higher in rural areas like those in West Virginia. Healthcare providers in rural communities have more leverage to demand higher rates from insurers. In addition, many of the ACA beneficiaries in West Virginia are older compared to other states, Dorn said.

The group calculated the premium hikes for the 33 states that use the federal marketplace rather than their own state-run exchanges using data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Democrats face a grueling midterm landscape in November with inflation and other pocketbook issues near the top of voters' concerns. Rising prices have severely dented Biden's approval rating, despite the economic rebound from the the pandemic that has led to low unemployment.

With ACA open enrollment kicking off on Nov. 1, many Americans would see the eye-popping premium increases for 2023 just a week before casting votes in the midterms.

Manchin had voiced support for the subsidies in February. But the conservative Democrat was noncommittal when Insider asked him twice earlier this month about his current position. He has signaled some openness to cutting a deal on a smaller Democrat-only spending bill focused on reducing the federal deficit and stepping up taxes on the richest Americans.

"Senator Manchin is always willing to engage in discussions about the best way to move our country forward," Sam Runyon, a Manchin spokesperson, said in an email statement. "He remains seriously concerned about the financial status of our country and believes fighting inflation by restoring fairness to our tax system and paying down our national debt must be our first priority."

Runyon also said Manchin is in favor of an "an all-of-the-above energy policy" as well as cutting the cost of prescription drugs. Manchin's office didn't respond to a follow-up email on ACA subsidies.

President Joe Biden last week doubled down on his pledge to provide financial relief from rising prices by expanding the Affordable Care Act and cutting energy costs with new spending on cleaner forms of energy like wind and solar.

But Democrats haven't been able to sort through the wreckage of their domestic ambitions or lock down Manchin's vote. They could face political blowback in the fall if they fail to renew subsidies on their own. Republicans are generally opposed to widening financial assistance for people relying on Obamacare, given the party's past efforts to repeal and replace the law under the Trump administration.

The Families USA report projected that premiums for people buying their own private insurance coverage would increase by 53% on average once subsidies expire. As the map above shows, there are similar increases in battleground states like Wisconsin, Arizona, Ohio, and New Hampshire where Democrats are hoping to defend or win back Senate seats from Republicans.

Manchin, a conservative Democrat, isn't up for re-election until 2024. But his current resistance to a party-line spending bill may jeopardize his party's chances of hanging onto their narrow majority and hand Republicans another political attack in the fall.

"People will be finding out about premium increases right before the midterm elections. It will certainly reflect poorly on Democrats," Larry Levitt, a healthcare expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation, previously told Insider. "The ACA is their premier domestic achievement of the last decade."


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