You are the owner of this article.

Gazette editorial: GOP lawsuit means 1 in 3 WV adults in danger of losing health care

Preexisting conditions

This map from California Healthline shows which states have the highest percentage of adults over age 65 with preexisting conditions. West Virginia is the highest at 36 percent.

If several states succeed in convincing a court to get rid of the Affordable Care Act’s protection for pre-existing conditions, guess who is going to suffer the most.

West Virginia leads the country in the rate of adults under age 65 with pre-existing conditions, at 36 percent, says an article from California Healthline. “That means that about 1 in 3 of them could have a hard time buying insurance through the individual marketplace without the ACA protections,” the story says.

Nevertheless, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, with apparently no direction from his “client,” the state of West Virginia, signed on with a bunch of other states’ officials who are so eager to gut the Affordable Care Act that they would sacrifice their own constituents. He is one of 20 Republican attorneys general and governors behind the lawsuit.

Nine of the 11 states with the highest rates of pre-existing conditions among adults under 65 have signed on to the lawsuit, California Healthline reports. Mississippi, 34 percent. Check. Alabama, 33 percent. Check.

People who remember life before the Affordable Care Act know that, if you had a heart attack, or asthma, or survived cancer, you never wanted to look for a new job. Changing insurers was too great a risk that the new company would find a way to exclude you from coverage and, therefore, access to health care. Even if you survived an illness and were in fantastic health, insurance companies did not want you.

That’s great for an insurance company’s bottom line, but it is murder on everyone else’s — from the individual household to all the other employers that pay ever-increasing rates to cover the uninsured.

Heaven forbid you are self-employed or aspire to entrepreneurship. Health insurance under the Affordable Care Act has a long way to go in meeting the needs of those breadwinners, but getting rid of protections for pre-existing conditions would only make it worse.

Vilifying the Affordable Care Act with the epithet “Obamacare” has been great for scoring political points and election wins, but not every West Virginian opposes the ACA. Former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin wisely chose to participate in the Medicaid expansion that extended health insurance coverage to many working West Virginians who earned too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance on their own. Who could be more deserving, if one has to deserve his or her health care?

As almost no one can afford to pay for health care without insurance, having health insurance is the ticket into the doctor’s office in the first place, and the thing that keeps working people out of medical bankruptcy.

Yet, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided not to defend key parts of the law his party is challenging. So, who does that leave to defend health coverage for the people? California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 16 other Democratic attorneys general.

One in three West Virginia adults is in danger of losing health care coverage because of this lawsuit. They can thank their Republican officeholders.