- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 23, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Public Health Impact Task Force has approved the final version of a plan to revamp the state’s local health system.

The plan, approved Tuesday, emphasizes retaining a local health presence in every county, but does not limit partnerships between counties, state health officer Dr. Rahul Gupta told The Charleston Gazette-Mail (https://bit.ly/1V79kgJ).

The approval will allow the state health bureau to move forward in evaluating billing practices for the state’s local health department, as well as determining the “minimum package” of what services must be made available at every local health department, Gupta said.

The effort is directed at “ensuring we have the most effective and efficient use of resources across state and public health dollars,” Gupta said.

The plan, developed by the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health at the task force’s request, was presented during the group’s meeting in Charleston on Dec. 9. Gupta said it was created using recommendations from the task force’s work groups and feedback from local health departments.

Gupta said the plan emphasizes retaining a local health presence, including an administrator, nurse, environmental health inspector and clerical worker in every county. However, it does not limit partnerships between counties.

The plan also recommends that a public health advisory board be established, and that the costs and availability of services become more standardized across counties.

The plan did not include any mandates, Gupta said, addressing concerns from some local health workers that the state might require them to partner with neighboring agencies to form regional health departments.

The task force moved to present its recommendations to lawmakers, although task force member Lloyd White, administrator of the Marion County Health Department, said the plan would likely not require legislative intervention.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail, https://wvgazettemail.com.


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