The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

July 25, 2013

State tops in per capita promotion of health law

CHARLESTON — More is being spent per capita in West Virginia than any other state to promote public awareness of the new health care reform law, but advocates are concerned that those who could benefit most still won’t get enrolled.

Data compiled by The Associated Press from federal and state sources shows $17.1 million in outreach spending in West Virginia. That amounts to $9.23 per resident. The next-closest state is Arkansas at $8.28 per resident.

The total amount spent in West Virginia ranks 11th among the states.

In May, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced that West Virginia would extend Medicaid coverage to an estimated 91,500 uninsured low-income residents under the health care overhaul starting next January.

Currently, about 183,000 West Virginian residents are enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This number is expected to grow to about 277,000 by 2016, according to an actuarial report commissioned by the state Insurance Commissioner’s office.

The report concludes that expanding Medicaid while following other provisions of the federal health care law eventually will reduce the ranks of the state’s uninsured from 246,000 West Virginians to around 76,000.

First, the word needs to get out to the community.

Perry Bryant, executive director of the state-based advocacy group West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, said a study has shown most state residents who would benefit under the health overhaul “have no idea that it’s coming.”

“Getting that word out and reaching that many people is a really daunting task,” Bryant said. “It’s really difficult to reach everybody who’s going to be eligible. The other part is, you can’t motivate somebody to make these kind of significant changes with one TV message or one radio commercial. It takes numerous contacts ... to have an effect on people’s behaviors.”

Huntington-based Valley Health Systems CEO Steve Shattls said one part involves informing clients during health clinic visits about how enrollment procedures work. Whether they actually decide to enroll is another matter.

More difficult is the task of finding and persuading people who now only seek help in hospital emergency rooms to instead acquire insurance through the health care program so that they can see regular doctors.

“Surely we have concerns about reaching people in the general community who maybe seek care outside of a primary care access point,” Shattls said. “There may be people that resist the enrollment for various reasons. I don’t know what the impact is going to be. I hope we insure many more West Virginians than are currently insured.”

According to the AP data, $14 million in state-awarded grants will be spent on outreach programs. More than two dozen health centers statewide will share $2.5 million from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to hire 53 workers who will assist the uninsured with enrollment. And $600,000 in federal grants will be doled out to community groups.

Federal funding for the community health clinic outreach is based on the number of patients. Valley Health Systems, which has clinics in 30 locations in six counties, will receive the most funding, $230,000.

“We plan in our communities to do what we can to get the word out,” Shattls said. “It’s like with anything else, are we going to be able to get them to that place where they can see the enrollment forms and get online and work with staff? Until the time comes ... we’ll know then. But we’re going to begin to gear up.”

In addition, Bryant said foundation-funded smaller grants will help train nonprofit and faith-based groups, libraries and health departments statewide so they can further help residents at the local level understand the enrollment process.

Specifics of the state outreach programs were unavailable. Jeremiah Samples, an expert on the federal law who recently moved from the state Insurance Commission to become assistant secretary for the Department of Health and Human Resources, didn’t immediately return a telephone message Wednesday.


Text Only
West Virginia
  • Some state Democrats flip to GOP

    As Republicans rally for more control in West Virginia’s long-time Democratic Legislature, a few Democrats have jumped ship to the GOP and are challenging former colleagues in midterm races.
    Republicans face their biggest election opportunity in decades in the House of Delegates, where a four-seat swing would put them in power for the first time in 85 years.

    April 20, 2014

  • Gee’s move could save Ohio State millions

    Ohio State University expects to save millions of dollars because former president Gordon Gee is giving up part of his retirement package as he becomes president of West Virginia University for the second time.

    April 19, 2014

  • W.Va. AG court filings: Dismiss gun law question

    The attorney general says a court challenge should be dismissed over whether West Virginians can bring guns to city recreational facilities that hold school events.
    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s filings Thursday argue the city of Charleston shouldn’t receive court guidance on how to implement a state gun law.

    April 18, 2014

  • Energy-state Dems split from Obama

    Scrapping to keep a West Virginia Senate seat Democratic in a state that’s sprinted to the right, Natalie Tennant is counting on her allegiance to the coal industry to separate herself from an unpopular President Barack Obama.
    Her approach reflects common Democratic strategy and tactics this midterm election year in energy-producing states that lean Republican: Sen. Mary Landrieu is vying for a fourth term representing Louisiana; Alaska Sen. Mark Begich is running for re-election for the first time; and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    April 17, 2014

  • Official: $2M in chemical spill costs reimbursable

    Public agencies and nonprofits that helped after a Jan. 9 chemical leak into the water supply could receive $2 million in reimbursements for their emergency work, a West Virginia homeland security official said.
    Federal and state emergency officials briefed fire departments, paramedics and other government groups Wednesday on how to recoup costs.

    April 17, 2014

  • Manchin urges mines to speak out for coal

    The Democratic senator leading the battle against the White House’s strategy to fight climate change urged the mining industry on Tuesday to speak out about coal’s role in providing affordable, reliable electricity to the country to help combat strict new emissions rules for coal-fired power plants.

    April 16, 2014

  • Many schools already meet new mandate for breakfast

    Many West Virginia public schools have changed the way they serve breakfast to students ahead of a requirement that goes into effect in September.

    April 14, 2014

  • W.Va. grower promotes unmodified feed corn

    Lyle Tabb is hoping that his non-genetically modified corn will take off with farmers who can charge top dollar for “all natural” eggs.
    Genetically modified or GMO corn has greatly simplified the process of getting rid of weeds, but has also substantially increased the amount of a chemical call glyphosate.

    April 13, 2014

  • Geologists link small quakes to fracking

    Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
    A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link “probable.”

    April 12, 2014

  • Phares looks forward to retirement

    James Phares looked forward to the challenge and opportunity to help make a difference in a state education system under fire when he was hired in late 2012 as West Virginia’s schools superintendent.
    After 18 months, Phares will be stepping down on June 30 — which he said was set long ago as the day at age 61 that he’d walk with his wife into retirement.

    April 11, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads