From The Well…

Monday, October 22, 2018



HCA schedules hearing on WVU Hospitals transplant CON

According to a State Register filing, the Health Care Authority has scheduled a hearing for West Virginia University Hospitals, Inc.’s, application for a certificate of need to provide kidney transplant services. The capital expenditure is $50,000. A prehearing conference is scheduled Jan. 02, 2019, at 1:30 pm. The administrative hearing is Tuesday, Jan. 08, 2019, at 9 a.m.


…Renewal granted for $14.5 million land acquisition

The HCA renewed until Dec. 30 a CON allowing WVU Hospitals to acquire “two adjacent parcels of property totaling approximately 32.5 acres near the new interchange being constructed on … I-79 between exits 142 and 155 in Morgantown.”


CON approved for Martinsburg Institute sale 

The HCA approved a certificate of need for G and G, Inc., a Florida company, to acquire for $4 million the Martinsburg Institute. According to its website, “Since 2002 Martinsburg Institute has been providing treatment for Opioid Dependence in Berkeley County and the surrounding areas. We provide medically assisted treatment which includes a daily dose of methadone, individual and group counseling, urinalysis testing and more.”


PEIA Finance Board continues meeting until Nov. 15

Those poor, unfortunate souls, this writer included, who made their way to PEIA headquarters on Oct. 18 without a last-minute check of the State Register, were bound for disappointment. A PEIA spokesman said the PEIA Finance Board meeting was “continued” until Nov. 15.


This was a theoretically important meeting. The Finance Board was supposed to approve next year’s plan, which will be presented at public meetings throughout the state. We know from previous announcements the plan will be little changed because PEIA has the money to finance current-level coverage for the upcoming fiscal year.


Most of what’s occurring was explained in a Gazette-Mail article. “Gov. Jim Justice,” Phil Kabler reported, “has notified Public Employees Insurance Agency Executive Director Ted Cheatham that state funding for PEIA for the 2019-20 plan year will total $575 million — an amount unchanged from the current plan…

“The letter makes no mention of Justice’s pledge announced Oct. 2 to commit an additional $100 million to PEIA.


“In a statement…, Mike Hall, Justice’s chief of staff and chairman of the PEIA Task Force created by the governor in February to find a fix for PEIA funding and benefits issues, explained why the $100 million is not included in the guidance letter:

“’Gov. Justice has proposed the additional $100 million appropriation for PEIA, but it must be approved by the Legislature. Additionally, the intent is that this money will be used to create a PEIA stability fund separate from general funding.’”



Canadian cannabis legalization opens door to marijuana health effects. CBC reports, “Many people in the medical field agree that with legalization Canada has opened the door to an unprecedented glimpse into the effects of cannabis on health.”


Canadian companies joining green rush. The New York Times reports, “On Oct. 17, Canada [became] only the second country in the world and the first major economy to legalize marijuana for all uses. Companies are clamoring to join in what some are calling a green rush.”


…World-leading industry emerging. HuffPost Canada reports, “Most of the news stories will likely focus on Canadians lighting up legally for the first time. But through that haze, the real story is that a sophisticated, safe and world leading new industry is emerging.”


…Canadian Medical Association Journal says profits pitched against health. The New York Times reports, “In a stinging editorial …, the Canadian Medical Association Journal called the government’s legalization plan an ‘uncontrolled experiment in which the profits of cannabis producers and tax revenues are squarely pitched against the health of Canadians.’”




CMS to issue value-based drug purchasing rule Politico reports, “[CMS] will issue a proposed rule in June that would change the Medicaid drug rebate program to support value-based purchasing arrangements between states and manufacturers…

“Essentially: A drug company agrees to base the cost of a drug on patient outcomes.”


New opioid could be more dangerous than fentanyl, oxycontin. WOWK reports, “An FDA committee is reportedly recommending the approval of an opioid that critics are warning could be more dangerous than fentanyl or oxycontin.

“It’s called DSUVIA and it’s allegedly 500 times more powerful than morphine, according to WSB-TV. 


Rural Americans preoccupied with opioid and drug addiction. NPR reports, “Rural Americans are preoccupied with the problems of opioid and drug addiction in their communities, citing it as a worry on par with concerns about local jobs and the economy, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.


“’For many years, the opioid crisis was seen as affecting only a few states — West Virginia, Kentucky and New Hampshire among others. But it never was just about those states,’ says poll co-director Robert J. Blendon, a professor of public health and health policy at Harvard. ‘It’s now at the same level of a very serious economic plight that people are really worried about. It affects elections, and it affects how people elected from rural areas view their priorities.’”



Architect of aggressive conservative reforms is new Medicaid director. Politico reports, “Mary Mayhew, the [2014]architect of Maine’s aggressive conservative reforms to the social safety net, is the new director of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”


DSCC sues Morrisey to release pharmaceutical industry communications. The Herald-Dispatch reports, “A lawsuit seeks to force Republican U.S. Senate nominee Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia to release public records related to his communications with the pharmaceutical industry.


“The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed suit … in Kanawha County Circuit Court against Morrisey, who is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin on Nov. 6.


…Pence headlines Morrisey rally. WOWK reports, “Campaign officials for… Morrisey announced … Vice President Mike Pence was in Bridgeport Saturday to headline a rally for Morrisey’s U.S. Senate campaign against … Manchin.”


…Trump Jr. to be in West Virginia Monday. The Hill reports, “President Trump‘s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is set to campaign in West Virginia on Monday on behalf of Senate candidate … Morrisey (R), who is trailing … Manchin (D-W.Va.) in the polls.


Householder again faces Frankenberry challenge. Herald Media reports, “Two years ago, incumbent Del. Eric Householder defeated challenger Barby Frankenberry by a little more than 800 votes in the race for the 64th District seat in the West Virginia House of Delegates.


“Now seeking a fifth term in the 100-seat House, Householder, 50, of Martinsburg again faces a challenge in the Nov. 6 general election from Frankenberry, 69, of Inwood, W.Va.”


Ojeda says he’ll flip Miller lead. The Gazette-Mail reports, “Sagging in the polls but fresh off a fundraising blitz, state Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, says he’s going to flip one of the reddest districts in the country.


“West Virginia House of Delegates Majority Whip Carol Miller, R-Cabell, is leading Ojeda by 3 points, according to a Monmouth University poll… That poll, which surveyed 350 likely voters in the 3rd District, has a 5-point margin of error.”


Dems lead in Senate race. The Hill reports, “A set of polls of likely voters … show Democrat candidates with leads in the Indiana and West Virginia Senate races and tied in Nevada”


…75,974 ads in race. The New York Times reports, “…We asked our friends at the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks and analyzes ad spending, to sort out which Senate and House races had seen the most ads this cycle.

In the Senate:

1. Indiana – 114,625

2. Florida – 102,786

3. Montana – 97,922

4. Missouri – 90,160

5. West Virginia – 75,974


Dinges, Espinosa square off in 66th. The Herald-Mail reports, “Del. Paul Espinosa and challenger David Dinges again are squaring off in the 66th District of the West Virginia House of Delegates in the Nov. 6 general election.”


Republicans urge Amendment One support. MetroNews reports, “While much of the attention this election cycle has been focused on the multiple public offices on the ballot, voters will also consider a proposed constitutional amendment regarding abortion…“Republicans are urging support for the amendment, as displayed Thursday night on the steps of the state Capitol building.”


Blair says ‘economic calamity’ is the only thing that will keep $100M out of PEIA budget. MetroNews reports, “An annual letter sent by the governor to the Public Employees Insurance Agency doesn’t include the extra $100 million promised by Gov. Jim Justice, but his staff says not to worry…“The only way the $100 million the governor promised wouldn’t be available would be in an economic calamity, said Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley”


Justice lawyers say residency hard to define. MetroNews reports, “Where is your residence?


“Lawyers for Gov. … Justice say that concept is hard to define. That’s the gist of their response to a petition before the state Supreme Court over where the governor is constitutionally obligated to live.”


…Definition is ‘slippery like an eel.’ The Gazette-Mail reports, “’Indeed, this court has recognized that the word ‘reside’ is ‘chameleon-like’ and ‘slippery like an eel,’ with no clear, rigid definition…”


McConnell says entitlement cuts only way to lower deficit. Newsweek reports, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said … the only way to lower the record-high federal deficit would be to cut entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security”


Minnesota sues drug companies about insulin price increases. Axios reports, “Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing three drug companies — Sanofi-Aventis, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly — over price increases for their insulin products.”



Unvaccinated Florida child dies from flu. The New York Times reports, “A child in Florida who had not received the flu vaccine died from the virus, state officials announced …, the first influenza-related pediatric death reported in the country this flu season.”


China fines faulty vaccine maker. The New York Times reports, “China has imposed a potentially crippling $1.3 billion fine on the company responsible for faulty vaccines given to hundreds of thousands of children, sending its strongest signal yet of a stricter legal environment for the scandal-prone industry.”


Walgreens CEO says his company can move online easier than Amazon can copy store network. Bloomberg reports, “Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. Chief Executive Officer Stefano Pessina said it will be easier for his company to move online than it will be for Inc. to copy its massive store network, predicting a long future for the pharmacy chain as it strikes new partnerships in health and retail.”


Drug resistant salmonella infections reported in Indiana. The Journal Star reports, “Five cases of drug-resistant salmonella infections linked to raw chicken products have been reported in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The cases are part of a wider national outbreak — 92 cases in 29 states are being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”


Insurance often fails its basic function. The New York Times reports, “The whole point of health insurance is protection from financial ruin in case of catastrophic, costly health problems. But a recent survey of people facing such problems shows that it often fails in that basic function.”


Parents educated beyond high school have healthier families. Science News reports, “A recent study finds that parents educated beyond high school have healthier families, as they invest more in family health care which reduces the likelihood of adverse medical conditions.”