The West Virginia Briefing | September 22, 2018



WVU Hospitals purchase of Braxton Memorial proceeding

The West Virginia Health Care Authority posted in the Sept. 21 edition of the State Register it deems complete WVU Hospitals, Inc. , certificate of need “for the acquisition of Braxton County Memorial Hospital and any related facilities” for a $12.5 million capital expenditure.”

According to Braxton’s website, “Established in 1981, BCMH is a non-profit, Critical Access Hospital that serves Braxton and parts of Clay, Gilmer, Lewis, Nicholas and Webster counties.”

Public hearings may be requested until Oct. 17. If no public hearing is requested, the file closing date is Oct. 22, and a decision will be issued on or before Nov. 16.


Medical Boards told to file rules

According to the State Register, the Board of Medicine  and the Board of Osteopathy have the go-ahead to file rules dealing with licensing and disciplinary procedures. The Legislative Rule-Making Review Committee  approved without amendment:

Licensing and Disciplinary Procedures: Physicians, Podiatric Physicians and Surgeons


Permitting and Disciplinary Procedures: Educational Permits for Graduate Medical Interns, Residents and Fellows


Licensing Procedures for Osteopathic Physicians



Things ‘up in the air’ over Canada’s cannabis legalization. The Montreal Gazette reports, “Canada is set to legalize cannabis on October 17, becoming one of the only countries in the world to do so. But as America’s northern neighbor finally makes its stance on the notorious leafy green plant official, there’s a number of items it has left up in the air.”


Overdose death rates may continue for years to come. The University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences reports, “Death rates from drug overdoses in the U.S. have been on an exponential growth curve that began at least 15 years before the mid-1990s surge in opioid prescribing, suggesting that overdose death rates may continue along this same historical growth trajectory for years to come…”


Tilray now ‘king of pot.’ Bloomberg reports, “Two months ago, Tilray Inc. was a little-known Canadian marijuana producer working to build its international footprint from the sleepy British Columbia town of Nanaimo. Today, Tilray has become the king of pot.”




Four circuit judges, as Supremes, to hear Armstead, Jenkins challenges. MetroNews reports, “Four county circuit judges and an acting justice of the state Supreme Court will hear a Charleston attorney’s challenge of Gov. Jim Justice’s appointments of Third District Congressman Evan Jenkins and former House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead to the High Court.”

…Hearing is Monday. The Gazette-Mail reports, “Members of an all-appointed West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday will hear arguments in the legal challenges…”


Pre-existing conditions become major election issue. Politico reports, “Republicans are struggling to convince voters they will protect people with pre-existing conditions as Democrats trying to build a blue wave for November pound them for threatening to take away sick people’s health care…

“…Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has surged to a comfortable lead by persistently attacking Morrisey on the issue, punctuated by an ad that shows Manchin shooting a copy of the Obamacare lawsuit.”


Sexual assault allegation upends political calculations. The New York Times reports, “The sexual assault accusation against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh hasn’t just upended what was expected to be his relatively easy Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court. The allegation has also scrambled the political calculations for 10 Democratic senators running for re-election in states won by President Trump, particularly three moderate Democrats who had been weighing a yes vote…

“…And for three of the most moderate Senate Democrats — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana — the nomination represented an opportunity for them to vote yes on Judge Kavanaugh and demonstrate independence from their party and deny Republicans an issue in the fall campaign. The three had previously supported President Trump’s first nominee for the court, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.”




APHA applauds spending bill passage. The American Public Health Association reports, “APHA applauds the Senate’s strongly bipartisan vote to pass the fiscal year 2019 appropriations bill funding the departments of Defense, Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. …The bill a… provides important increases to public health funding that are desperately needed for prevention programs.

Capito, Manchin favor federal opioid bill. The Journal reports, “U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., … voted to pass the Opioid Crisis Response Act that provides new funding to fight the nation’s opioid crisis.”


Moore to serve as majority leader. Herald Media reports, “House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, said … he has chosen Del. Riley Moore, R-Jefferson, to serve as the next majority leader for the West Virginia Legislature if voters again elect a majority of Republicans in the Nov. 6 general election.”


Departures from Justice Administration detailed. The News and Sentinel reports, “Dr. Rahul Gupta, who headed the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health and supervised the Office of Drug Control Policy, is the next high-profile Justice Administration official leaving.”


Unger allegedly fails to disclose serving as non-profit officer. Herald-Media reports, “An Eastern Panhandle lawmaker [Sen. John Unger] twice failed to disclose to the West Virginia Ethics Commission that he serves as an officer of a nonprofit ‘recovery-coach’ training organization that has received more than $80,000 from various state agencies since March.”



Health care company data could help predict flu seasons. Science Daily reports, “In an era when for-profit companies collect a wealth of data…, new research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that data collected by health care companies could — if made available to researchers and public health agencies – enable more accurate forecasts of when the next flu season will peak, how long it will last and how many people will get sick.”


Pharmaceutical companies delay price increases. Hospitals do not. Axios reports, “Several pharmaceutical companies have recently said they’ll delay some of their price increases, under pressure from the Trump administration. But hospitals have made no such concessions, even though they make up a much larger share of total health care spending.”


WVU adding heart transplant program. WV News reports, “West Virginia patients in need of a heart transplant will one day be able to travel to Morgantown for that procedure rather than having to leave the state.

“During a press conference …, the WVU Heart & Vascular Institute announced it will be adding a heart transplant program  to its list of services.”