The House of Delegates sailed through passage of several healthcare- and child welfare-related bills on Wednesday, Jan. 30, but divided on and debated at length an amendment to the foster care bill. The foster care bill is HB 2010. It proposes to allow the Department of Health and Human Resources to contract out foster care to managed care organizations and has been contentious all legislative session. …
Source: Brad McElhinny, West Virginia Metro News, August 26, 2018
Gov. Jim Justice wants the PEIA Task Force, which has been meeting for a half-year now, to continue its work aimed at shoring up health insurance for state employees and retirees. But Justice said in a Friday interview that he’s also working independently on possible changes to the Public Employees Insurance Agency. He hinted that might have an element of privatization, the way the state dealt with workers compensation years ago, and also that he is looking toward long-term stabilization of the program that he believes is possible because of West Virginia’s improved economic outlook. …
WV officials unsure PEIA would benefit from privatization
Source: Phil Kabler, Charleston Gazette-Mail, September 19, 2017
Privatization of West Virginia’s Workers’ Compensation insurance was successful, particularly in lowering employer premiums and increasing competition, Brickstreet Insurance CEO Greg Burton told legislators Tuesday. Whether those successes would apply to privatization of the state Public Employees Insurance Agency health insurance remains to be seen, he said. “I’m not sure all the successes that happened with Workers’ Comp privatization, particularly with the decreases in rates…would translate over to PEIA,” he told a legislative interim committee studying PEIA. … According to a report on state employee health benefits published by the National Conference of State Legislatures on April 2, only two states exclusively use private insurers to provide health insurance to public employees, Idaho and North Dakota. According to the NCSL, 29 states, including West Virginia, have fully self-funded health insurance plans, while the remaining 19 states provide employees with coverage options, including self-funded plans. …
Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday denounced a plan to privatize the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, the state’s third medical school located in Justice’s own Greenbrier County. The governor’s statement came after Sen. Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, introduced a bill last week that would transfer ownership of the Lewisburg school to a not-for-profit corporation in July of 2018. … Blair previously told the Gazette-Mail that he thought allowing the school to become a private institution would allow the institution to grow faster than it currently is, but it’s status as a public institution has no bearing on how many students the school accepts each year. That number is dictated by the college’s accreditors. Allowing the school to go private would trim about $7.4 million from the state’s budget. … When asked if Justice would veto Blair’s bill should it be ultimately approved by both houses of the Legislature, his Press Secretary Grant Herring said that allowing the college to privatize was the “last thing” the governor wanted to do.
West Virginia officials have found a group to run a day care center at the Capitol complex for children of public employees. The Department of Administration says Discovery Kingdom Child Care will take over the West Virginia Public Employees Day Care Center. … Kanawha County Schools has said it will stop operating the Capitol complex day care facility after Dec. 2. The Kanawha school system has been in charge since the center’s inception in 1992. The change-over date will be determined during the transition period. The center serves children from six weeks through five years of age. …
The union that represents workers at West Virginia’s state-run hospitals called Friday for a public hearing on a bill introduced in the Legislature earlier this week that would privatize three state-run nursing homes. House Bill 4352, introduced Tuesday, would allow the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources to sell Lakin Hospital, in Mason County, Jackie Withrow Hospital, in Beckley, and Hopemont Hospital, in Preston County. If passed, it directs the DHHR to develop a plan to unload the three hospitals by Nov. 30 — and to sell each and divest itself of the contracts associated with them by July 1, 2017. … Simmons added that the privatization of the hospitals likely would come by selling them to large, out-of-state companies. UE 170 President Donna Morgan said that, if the bill were to pass and the hospitals were sold, it could mean similar legislation in the future targeting other facilities and jeopardizing other state government jobs.
Developers working with West Virginia University allegedly failed to pay nearly $7.2 million dollars to the construction company that built University Place, according to a civil suit filed Wednesday in Monongalia County Circuit Court. Among other things, Turner Construction Company alleges that West Virginia Campus Housing, the company responsible for the public private partnership of the development, breached its contract. … WVU entered into a public-private partnership in 2012 with Paradigm Development Group to construct UPlace after the University’s Board of Governors approved a 5-acre land acquisition, according to a previous report by The Daily Athenaeum. Paradigm is WVCH’s parent company, according to the suit. … Once construction was underway, WVCH allegedly failed to make full payments to Turner Construction. Still, WVCH subleased the premises to WVU. … In July 2014, UPlace faced harsh criticism after it notified future residents that the complex would not be ready in time for its mid-August move-in date as originally promised. UPlace cited delays in construction after poor winter weather. Residents were forced into alternative living arrangements for most of the fall 2014 semester until UPlace opened in late November that year.
Source: WSAZ, July 17, 2015
The Cabell County Solid Waste Authority has announced that it plans to discontinue the county’s recycling bin program because of price hikes from the recycling company. Solid waste authority officials say Rumpke is now asking for double the cost of the 37 bins located throughout the county. The bins are scattered throughout the county in 8 locations. The solid waste authority says if they can’t not find additional funding to make up for this increase they will have to pull the county’s recycling program. … If the service is cancelled, the only option for those wishing to recycle is a curbside pickup with a fee.
ALEC and the bail bond industry have a new plan to empty prisons—for a price…. Bail is an essential lubricant of American justice, asserted Nicholas Wachinski, executive director of the American Bail Coalition, a trade group for insurance companies that underwrite bail bonds. But now bail agents are under siege by so-called reformers, who argue that the traditional bail system forces poor defendants to choose between paying fees they can’t afford and sitting in jail until they go to trial. A growing number of states—New Jersey, Colorado, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Hawaii, and others—are limiting the use of bail for defendants who don’t pose a threat, or replacing for-profit bail with government supervision. Of course, Wachinski said, the bail bond industry will continue its tireless lobbying to protect its lucrative franchise, but he was there with another message: Innovation! New products! New markets! “A brave new world!” Why should bail bonds be only for defendants who are awaiting trial? How about bail bonds for a whole new class of customers: people who have already been convicted…. Mississippi has been a kind of laboratory for bail industry experiments. The state is the country’s poorest and has the third-highest per-capita incarceration rate. The Mississippi Bail Agents Association exercises strong legislative influence, boasting on its website that “[s]ince 1992, there have only been two years in which the MBAA did not succeed at making changes to the state bail statutes.” The bail industry has given more in campaign contributions per capita to state politicians in Mississippi than anywhere else. Versions of post-conviction bail legislation have also passed in South Dakota and Michigan, a victory celebrated by bail agents but not yet put into widespread practice….
Six months after a chemical spill fouled a vital West Virginia water supply, a fight is brewing over the tons of waste it left behind. The small city of Hurricane, W.Va., and surrounding Putnam County, want two subsidiaries of Waste Management Inc. that operate a local landfill to dig up and remove 228 tons of waste containing the chemical that contaminated the region’s water supply in January. The municipalities sued the companies in federal court in May, arguing that the waste is hazardous and not suited to the solid-waste landfill that handles ordinary trash. They said rain and leached materials eventually flow to a collection pond, and then a wastewater treatment plant before being discharged into a creek…. The case could have implications beyond West Virginia, say legal experts, by setting a precedent for when third parties can challenge what regulators deem to be hazardous or safe substances. A judge has asked for additional briefs from both sides….
Putnam commissioners plan federal lawsuit over chemical in landfill
Source: Ryan Quinn, Charleston Gazette, April 15, 2014
Putnam County commissioners agreed Tuesday to hire the former head of the state Department of Environmental Protection to help force the removal of contaminated material from the Elk River chemical spill that ended up in a Hurricane landfill. Commissioners agreed to split a $60,000 retainer with the city of Hurricane to hire Charleston lawyer Mike Callaghan, DEP secretary from 2000 to 2003, and several other attorneys with national environmental experience to file a federal lawsuit against Waste Management. The goal is to force Waste Management to remove contaminated wastewater mixed with sawdust from the landfill. The suit could also seek to recover damages and “all appropriate costs of response to any nuisance conditions or endangerments” to the environment and to public safety and welfare, the contract states. …
….Freedom leaked the chemicals into the Elk River on Jan. 9, fouling the water supply for about 300,000 West Virginians. DEP has said Freedom’s site cleanup must ensure that MCHM doesn’t get into waterways, so any rainwater or snow melt that runs across the site is being collected. DEP has said the remaining wastewater is being trucked to disposal sites in Ohio and North Carolina. ….
The National Park Service and the Coast Guard say they will hire contractors for positions typically filled by civilian employees, something a federal union says is illegal. Both agencies say they are within their legal rights. Under federal law, agencies are prohibited from contracting out functions performed by 10 or more civilian employees unless they have documented the cost benefits of such a conversion. …. The Coast Guard wants contractors to collect new user fees at its National Vessel Documentation Center in Falling Waters, W.Va. …. NPS also argued it could not afford new federal employees. The agency plans to contract out custodial and grounds-keeping work at the Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pa….