The 84th legislature will adjourn shortly. As I write this, I am listening to the Senate as members work toward finishing the day’s calendar and concluding legislative business. This legislature had many debates on healthcare issues during its 60 day session.
The Mountain State has one of the highest per capita rates of tobacco use in the country. Tobacco is always a big topic of discussion among policy makers and interest groups. There were no efforts to change clean indoor air regulations that are typically done at the local level in West Virginia. Though unsuccessful, Senate Leadership made a valiant effort to increase the tobacco tax and give tax parity to vaping products. The legislature was prepared to discuss raising the purchasing age for tobacco products to 21, but the Trump administration did so right before the session.
Vaccine policy is always a heated discussion, where West Virginia is a national leader. Our level of school-age immunizations has kept diseases like measles outside our borders. There were multiple bills that attempted to water down the vaccine policy in West Virginia, all of which were unsuccessful.
Medicaid is the 900 pound gorilla in the room. In his State of the State address, the Governor asked for the creation of a Medicaid trust fund and for removal of the wait list for the I/DD waiver. The legislature delivered both which sets West Virginia up with a healthy savings account for Medicaid and helps many West Virginians get the help they so need. A provider tax on MCOs will generate revenue that will provide adult dental coverage for Medicaid recipients up to $1,000.
The legislature passed one bill discussing telemedicine that begins to put West Virginia health providers in the 21st century to deliver healthcare to their patients using technological means.
John Law helped in drafting this post.