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Issue Position: Health

Issue Position

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Health: Promote the health and economic well being of West Virginia

West Virginia has a number of unique health challenges. There are more than 250,000 uninsured West Virginians and many more underinsured. We are near the top in all the wrong categories: we have the second highest rate of death from diabetes in the country and 3rd highest rate of death from lower respiratory diseases. Health care reform will help the people of West Virginia with preventative care and treatment of illness.

This is a personal issue for many West Virginian families as it is for my family. Our daughter Delaney was born with a heart defect that required open-heart surgery when she was just a week old. Thanks to the care of her doctors and health care workers, the surgery was successful and Delaney is now a happy and healthy 9 year old. And while our employer provided health insurance defrayed the cost of the surgery, a staggering $156,000, Delaney's pre-existing condition will threaten her financial and physical well being for the rest of her life.

Unlike many Governors who use health care reform as a political tool, I see it as a way to help West Virginians lead healthier, more productive lives. We will comply with the implementation of the federal legislation, while at the same time supporting efforts to eliminate the 1099 provision of the bill that places a paperwork burden on small businesses.

But it's not simply about making health care more affordable and accessible. We must address the need for mental health care and we must address prescription drug abuse like the serious problem that it is -- threatening our families and our economic well being. We must get our kids moving again, and with more than twenty percent of our children eligible for free or reduced price lunches and/or breakfasts, we must teach good eating habits. Not simply because good nutrition can stave off obesity, but because it helps students concentrate and learn in school.

Improving the quality of life for West Virginians is critical to long-term economic revitalization. A business is only as healthy as its employees and we must lessen the burden of health care costs on our businesses and manufacturers. Innovation and Accountability mean we can increase access to care and reduce the cost of care, while creating jobs in the most remote areas of our state.

To promote the health and economic well being of West Virginia, as Governor I will:

* Actively support implementation of state-based health insurance exchanges and investment in health information systems to ensure affordable, accessible health care.

* Develop and expand community health centers through public-private partnerships. I will work with pharmacies to develop "Minute Clinics" and bring non-traditional partners together to create local solutions to our health care challenges.

* Expand the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to ensure increased access is matched with increased affordability for our families.

* Work with our farmers, businesses, and schools to bring local, fresh foods into our schools and task our educational systems and businesses to create partnerships for getting kids active.

* Task law enforcement, the medical community, pharmacists, and educators to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent medication abuse, prevent illegal drug sales on our streets, educate and inform West Virginians on the risks and benefits of prescription drugs, and encourage safe and effective medication use by patients.

* Increase support for state law enforcement and regulatory boards to turn the tide against the scourge of prescription drug abuse that is tearing families apart, increasing crime and killing our citizens.

* Work with our local hospitals and medical providers to secure additional federal funds to offer or expand mental health services.


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