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Nearly all of approximately 6,000 children in state foster care will feel Medicaid cuts

Hundreds of thousands of children rely on Medicaid in West Virginia for their health care. (WCHS/WVAH)

Proposed Medicaid cuts could have a devastating effects on thousands of children in West Virginia, state officials said.

On Capitol Hill, GOP senators were back behind closed doors Wednesday, trying to hammer out some kind of path to getting their health care bill passed.

The goal is to have a deal on a new draft by Friday and vote on it when they return from the July Fourth holiday recess.

Under the Senate’s bill, 22 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 than if Obamacare remained in place.

Under Medicaid, states would eventually receive a fixed amount in the form of a block grant or a figure based on the number of enrollees.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said any cuts to Medicaid would have a ripple effect creating crippling economic hardship and service burdens on public and private health care providers throughout the state.

Hundreds of thousands of children rely on Medicaid in West Virginia for their health care.

Priscilla Spence receives Medicaid and so does her disabled daughter, who needs 24-hour care.

She is afraid of what will happen if the proposed cuts to Medicaid under the American Health Care Act take place.

Spence said If she loses her Medicaid, she could possibly die.

Wednesday, Spence visited U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's office in Charleston, urging the lawmaker to protect Medicaid.

Spence is hoping that lawmakers keep, but improve Obamacare.

"The penalties were very steep for people who could not get insurance,” Spence said.

According to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, nearly 190,000 kids receive Medicaid in the state at any given time. And all of the nearly 6,000 foster children in the state receive Medicaid.

Steve Tuck, chief executive of the Children's Home Society, has been with the organization for 25 years.

"Children in foster care, it's well documented, they have well above the normal needs for medical care, behavioral care or mental health services,” Tuck said.

If the cuts happen, they will come from different areas, and foster children will see the effects in different ways.

"They could just begin to not be eligible for a certain service within that component of Medicaid,” Tuck said.

Tuck said many of the children in foster care are there because their parents are addicted to drugs.

And because Medicaid funds substance abuse programs, the cuts could mean fewer parents getting help and more children staying in the system.

"We're here to say that it would cause more cost down the road,” Tuck said.

Spence is hoping lawmakers think about what’s best for the children.

"Medicaid cuts in this new health care bill are going to devastate the families of West Virginia,” Tuck said.

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