Legislature Goes Sine Die at Midnight

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.

Published by Danny Scalise

Danny Franklin Scalise, II is the Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist of the West Virginia State Medical Association and its subsidiary organizations as well as a professor of Health Policy at the West Virginia University School of Public Health. He is considered one of the leading health policy experts in West Virginia and is a passionate advocate for public health. Scalise has been a public policy adviser to two Governors. He is well known across West Virginia as a problem solver and a great student of West Virginia politics & the legislative process. As part of the Manchin administration, Danny was the Recovery Czar in West Virginia managing $1.8 billion in grants and entitlement funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
 Danny earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in 2002, his Master of Business Administration from West Virginia University in 2005, and his Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy in 2018. In 2016 he became Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. He has been published on and regularly speaks on issues of public health, health policy, and local health department governance & organizational structure. Danny sits on the Board of Directors for the Thomas Health System in South Charleston, WV and in 2019 Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin appointed him to serve on the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health which governs the largest and first PHAB Accredited Health Department in West Virginia. 
 Danny has been recognized by Opportunity Nation in 2013 as part of their national Opportunity Leaders & Scholars program and was awarded the “Health Administration Rising Star” by the American Public Health Association in 2016. He is a 2012 Leadership West Virginia graduate, was on the State Journal’s 2016 Generation Next: 40 under 40 list, was named a 2019 Young Gun by West Virginia Executive Magazine, and was given the 2019 Advocacy Award by the West Virginia Immunization Network for his work to protect West Virginia’s childhood immunization laws. Since joining in 2007, Danny has been an active participant in Mensa.

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