The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

May 24, 2008

Legislators optimistic about health plan

CHARLESTON — Red tape is deemed the curse of modern life.

And nowhere is this any more obvious than in the realm of health care, an industry beset with reams of paperwork that boggle patient and provider alike.

Which explains why one of four special work groups looking for an ultimate goal of universal health care in West Virginia is looking at simplifying the administrative end.

“We want to make things easier for you to get care and for your health care providers to make the whole process easier,” Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, says.

An emergency room physician at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital, Staggers is one of two doctors in the House of Delegates. The other is Delegate Marshall Long, D-Mercer, who Staggers hopes joins the work group.

Staggers says the problems in the administrative end of health care are “rampant” in the entire system.

“One thing I find in health care is, if people knew where to go and what to do next, they could save a lot of time, effort and money,” she says.

“A lot of people come to the emergency department because they don’t know what else to do. That’s a rather expensive way to get directions.”

While the emergency room can provide stabilization, “that’s not a good entrance into the health care system,” Staggers says.

Tentative plans were unveiled in the May interims session by Dr. Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University in Atlanta, who pledged his efforts toward providing a “state-of-the-art health care delivery system” that would be the envy of other states and a pattern worthy of emulation.

Upwards of some 400,000 people in West Virginia are without access to health insurance, making the work critical, House Health and Human Resources Chairman Don Perdue, D-Wayne, says.

The other three study groups are dedicated to technology, chronic conditions and wellness and prevention.

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