The West Virginia Briefing | September 26, 2018




Canada employers updating impairment policies to deal with cannabis. INVESTORINTEL reports, “The Cannabis Act (the ‘Act’), the Cannabis Regulations (the ‘Regulations), and Ontario’s Cannabis Act, 2017 (the ‘Ontario Act’) restrict the consumption of both recreational and medicinal cannabis in a workplace. Employers should consider these restrictions when crafting or updating existing impairment policies.”


…University of Calgary won’t include cannabis. The Calgary Herald reports, “Higher learning at the University of Calgary won’t include cannabis when recreational pot is legalized next month.”


Fish oil causes Amarin share surge. CNBC reports, “Amarin shares surged … after the biopharmaceutical company’s fish oil capsule showed dramatic benefits to heart patients in a clinical trial.”


Gilead to launch generic Hepatitis C drug. Physician’s Weekly reports, “Gilead Sciences Inc said … it plans to launch generic versions of its hepatitis C drugs in the United States, at a time when regulators are looking to lower healthcare costs.”


…Express Scripts congratulates Gilead. Seeking Alpha reports, “Express Scripts (ESRX -0.2%) is congratulating the organization it sees in the mirror over Gilead Sciences’ plan to launch generic versions of HCV meds Epclusa and Harvoni.”


Malta says choose between medical marijuana and driving. Malta Today reports, “The Superintendence of Public Health has instructed doctors to consider each patient eligible for medical cannabis for their driving ability when under the influence – a situation that could result in these patients having to choose between their marijuana prescription or their driving license.”


Marijuana legalization dominoes keep falling. Yahoo Finance reports, “Going green has taken on a new meaning in the United States. Less than two decades ago, marijuana was illegal in all 50 U.S. states. With Oklahoma passing a ballot initiative in June 2018 to legalize medical marijuana, 30 U.S. states now have broad legislation in place that allows of the use of marijuana.


“Think of the states as dominoes lined up one by one. When the first domino topples, it leads to a chain reaction that causes most, if not all, of the others to fall. That’s what has happened, and continues to happen, with state legalization of marijuana. The timeline for marijuana legalization in the U.S. shows how those dominoes keep falling.”


New Jersey cannabis legalization bill coming soon. NJ Spotlight reports, “For several months now, Assembly and Senate leaders and the governor have been working closely on a bill … that will essentially set the framework for cannabis legislation in the Garden State.




Armstead, Jenkins allowed on court. The Washington Post reports, “Two Republicans politicians will serve as temporary justices on the West Virginia Supreme Court after a group of judicial stand-ins rejected challenges to their appointments to replace departed justices.

“The court … turned back challenges by two lawyers to the appointments of U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and ex-House speaker Tim Armstead. The court said, ‘There is no clear right to the relief sought.’”


Trump returns to West Virginia (Wheeling) to campaign for Morrisey. WVNS reports, “According to a release from the attorney general’s office,  President Trump will be returning to West Virginia for his second campaign rally for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey on Saturday, September 29, 2018 in Wheeling, WV at the WesBanco Arena.”




Bill removes bed cap for substance abuse treatment. The [Ohio] Tribune Chronicle reports, “A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would remove a cap on the number of people who can be treated at a Medicaid-accepted center for substance-use disorders.


“The cap, known as the Institutions for Mental Disease … exclusion, was enacted in 1965 and makes it so treatment facilities that accept Medicaid patients can’t treat more than 16 people at once and still bill Medicaid.”

…Situational awareness: We reported June 01: West Virginia Medicaid is taking steps to address the state’s opioid crisis. Medicaid Commissioner Cindy Beane announced the new initiatives at a June 01 meeting of the Medical Services Fund Advisory Council. Following the approval of a long-awaited Substance Abuse Disorder waiver, Medicaid began in January paying for additional services:

Beginning in July, Medicaid will begin paying for some residential treatment services for the addicted and for peer recovery support services. To receive peer-support payment, counselors must have a certificate, be two years in recovery and be an employee of a licensed behavioral health center.


…Critics argue it means too many $$ for residential facilities. Modern Healthcare reports, “While hospitals and other inpatient facilities have pushed the legislation because it will fast-track state applications for Medicaid funds to fund patient stays, critics argue that it will pour scarce resources into higher-priced residential treatment over community-based treatment


Trump transfers money from DHHS to pay for detention. The Hill reports, Public health advocates are sounding the alarm over President Trump’s decision to divert nearly $200 million from health programs to fund the detention of unaccompanied migrant children  who crossed into the country illegally…”


Justice has until Oct. 16 to respond to residency challenge. MetroNews reports, “The state Supreme Court has given Gov. Jim Justice until Oct. 16 to respond to a constitutional challenge to his residency.”


WSAZ investigation says child protective services overloaded. WSAZ reports, “Systems in place to protect children are overloaded due to West Virginia’s drug crisis.


“Our investigation uncovered that the state of West Virginia does not require drug testing for any state employee, including those who work with children. Leaders say they do background checks, but they will not answer questions about how extensive they are.”


…Thought bubble. We reported on Sept. 18: Members of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability … voted to write the Department of Health and Human Resources a letter endorsing moving the state’s foster care program into managed care.

A bill was introduced during the 2018 legislative session mandating the transfer.


While he admits disliking using the word, DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples explained addressing child care issues is “complicated.” DHHR officials have long told legislators issues are complicated when both sides are frustrated by a lack of comprehension and understanding.


Samples said managed care companies have more flexibility in offering programs and don’t have to stick to state guidelines. (They must meet a variety of contract requirements to receive payment.) He said MCOs can build infrastructure—in some cases bringing children placed out of state for treatment back into state for care. (Legislators have, for decades, questioned DHHR on what they see as excessive out-of-state placements, taking money away from in-state providers.) MCOs also have more flexibility in paying providers. Samples called the foster care need a life and death situation.


Long-term care

Australians shape new caring concept. The Guardian reports, “It’s an idea taking shape in Tasmania at the ‘revolutionary’ Korongee – touted as Australia’s first dementia village – a $25m care facility in Hobart’s Glenorchy, modelled on the example of the De Hogeweyk village in the Netherlands, where small groups of residents with shared interests live in houses with carers. The idea is that they are free to wander the village and go to the supermarket, cinema, cafe, beauty salon or gardens, and live an active life while still being supported by care.


Canada study shows fundamental short comings in meeting older adults’ needs. Eureka Alert reports, “The authors state that the study ‘shows that fundamental shortcomings in the health system’s ability to meet older adults’ needs , particularly those with dementia, manifest as frequent use of acute care, including readmissions, prolonged hospital stays with extended alternate levels of care periods and ‘non-acute’ reasons for hospital admission.”