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Manchin visits Bavarian Inn to learn about community healthcare concerns at roundtabl

By Staff | Aug 31, 2018

Senator Joe Manchin, second to the right, discusses healthcare with a group of Eastern Panhandle residents at The Bavarian Inn. Photo by Tabitha Johnston.

SHEPHERDSTOWN–Twenty-eight-year ovarian cancer survivor George Bloughe, who has been a Berkeley County resident since 1987, is aware of the difficulties many people face when they are diagnosed with a health problem.

After diagnosis, people with health problems may be labeled as having a pre-existing condition by their health insurance companies. Health insurance companies determine if health problems can be considered pre-existing conditions, and can include anything from AIDS to acne, from pregnancy to Parkinson’s disease, in their definitions.

Some people lose insurance coverage because of their pre-existing conditions, while others experience extreme price hikes from their health insurance providers. According to Bloughe, health insurance companies need to be regulated by the federal government, to prevent them from making it difficult for those who have been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition to have health insurance.

Although Bloughe has not personally lost her health insurance as a result of her health history, she is concerned for people she knows who have recently been diagnosed with a pre-existing condition.

During “A Pre-existing Conditions Roundtable Discussion” at the Bavarian Inn on Aug. 21, Bloughe told Senator Joe Manchin about a friend of hers, whose four-year-old granddaughter has been diagnosed with cancer. Unless federal legislation is put in place, this child will live the remainder of her life dealing with the health insurance repurcussions of having a pre-existing condition.

“I don’t want insurance companies to cherry pick — pre-existing conditions can be used as a discriminator,” Bloughe said. “As a result of the Affordable Care Act, finally, people who couldn’t afford medical care could now get it.”

According to Manchin, cuts to the Affordable Care Act have resulted in health insurance companies being able to take back the control, so they are able to grant or deny insurance, or charge high prices from people with pre-existing conditions. Manchin, who is up for re-election in November, held the meeting as one of several he is hosting across the state, to find out the health care needs and opinions of his constituents.

“It takes a community to support something such as this,” Manchin said. “The reason I wanted to talk to you all, and wanted you to be involved, is that they’ve tried to politicize healthcare — which is so wrong. Now do I think the Affordable Care Act is how it could be or should be? No.”

However, Manchin said he believes the ACA should be funded as it was in the Obama administration, and should then be tweaked, as politicians find areas of the ACA that can be improved. If the ACA were returned to its original state, Manchin told the local health practitioners and charity organization representatives at the event, he would like to see health insurance education put in place, to teach people how to best use their health insurance.

Shepherdstown family practitioner Dr. Dave Didden said he appreciated Manchin’s interest in hearing community members’ concerns, and hopes more influential people will do the same.

“I like to see patients’ stories being told. I really do think people make decisions based on individuals’ decisions and personalities behind them,” Didden said. “I’m a big fan of dialogue, if you can get people in a room having respectful conversations with each other.”