To The Editor:
As a member of the state Senate, where I proudly represent the 6th District, I understand how important access to high-quality health care is for West Virginians, particularly in our many rural small towns and communities. As a former small-business owner, I also appreciate how the challenges and costs associated with health care—particularly once the government gets involved—can quickly pile up.
That is why I must urge West Virginia’s entire congressional delegation, particularly Senator Joe Manchin, to oppose efforts to get the government more entrenched in our health care system by pushing dangerous public option proposals. If passed, a public option could hurt access for West Virginia communities while saddling small businesses—the backbone of our economy—with higher costs and premiums.
A public option would slowly but surely push private and employer-sponsored plans out of the insurance market. Plans that remain would likely see premiums skyrocket, having a direct, negative impact on West Virginia’s small businesses and small-business owners, many of whom already struggle to keep up with the rising cost of providing health care coverage for their employees. We are just now beginning to turn things around after more than a year of economic struggles—we cannot afford to hit small-business owners with higher costs and premiums.
Moreover, rural West Virginians should not see their health care options suffer, which is what would happen under a public option. This kind of government-run approach to health care would drastically reduce reimbursement rates, undercutting local West Virginia physicians and hospitals. Rural hospitals already operating on extraordinarily thin margins could be forced to cut back services or close down altogether, undermining access to care for some of our most vulnerable patients.
I am thankful that Senator Manchin has in the past expressed public opposition to similar schemes like Medicare for All and Medicare expansion proposals. He should take the same principled stance on the public option and focus on commonsense policy solutions that will actually help West Virginians. The strength of West Virginia’s small businesses and rural communities is counting on him to do the right thing.
State Senator Chandler Swope