- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:


Oct. 19

The Intelligencer on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:

Most businesses are formed with the intent of making a profit, along with delivering a good or service. No one begrudges business owners, managers and employees the honest fruits of their labor. But when those businesses become predatory, taking advantage of a vulnerable population to profit massively, questions should be raised.

In West Virginia, some pharmaceutical companies, partnered with unscrupulous doctors, appear to have taken advantage of the increasing number of opioid addicts to pull in hefty sums of money.

Drug wholesalers AmerisourceBergen and McKesson Corp. have already settled with the Mountain State for shipping millions of hydrocodone or oxycodone pills. Cardinal Health Inc. shipped more than double the number of pills of any other supplier from 2007 to 2012 and is in the midst of a lawsuit in Boone County Circuit Court. They were sending “an extraordinary number of doses of medication for a small state like ours,” according to one lawmaker. There are fewer than 2 million people in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, the crimes against our youngest generation continue to pile up, seemingly in lockstep with the increase in substance abuse in our state.

Last year, West Virginia’s 20 child advocacy centers served 3,518 children, a nearly 50 percent increase over the past five years, according to the agency. One in every 100 children in the area served were seen by the centers last year.

A drug pusher on the streets who intentionally flooded a neighborhood with dangerous drugs, feeding addictions that led to the abuse and neglect of children, would get very little mercy in our criminal courts.

And while pharmaceutical companies might argue they and the “doctors” with whom they work were at first simply meeting demand, the business decisions are not so easily defended today. Choosing to fuel a substance abuse epidemic that is crippling an entire state, and damaging even our youngest citizens is indefensible, and stockholders should let those companies know they will not stand for it.




Oct. 19

The Charleston Gazette on a public option in the Affordable Care Act:

President Obama’s 2010 triumph, the Affordable Care Act, has brought health insurance to around 20 million more Americans - despite 60-some Republican votes in Congress to kill the humanitarian plan.

Now the GOP is crowing because Aetna, Humana and United Health, disappointed by lack of profits, will reduce their participation in ACA internet exchanges offering coverage to the public, mostly in rural places.

Well, good riddance. The health of Americans shouldn’t be at the mercy of greedy commercial insurers. Medical care should be a human right for everyone.

Now is a perfect time to expand the ACA with a “public option” - low-cost, government-run insurance competing against for-profit insurers. This proposal is endorsed by the 2016 Democratic national platform.

But a public option cannot be attained as long as Republicans control Congress. Therefore, the outcome of November’s election will be crucial.

We’re confident that complete universal health insurance someday will cover every American - similar to national plans in other democracies. Such systems reduce medical costs by wiping out commercial insurance overhead expense. The sooner the better.




Oct. 19

The Inter-Mountain on West Virginia’s economic woes:

West Virginians who cannot shake the suspicion that the recovery reportedly being experienced in the rest of the country has left them behind have more good reason to be concerned.

A report in the 2017 West Virginia Manufacturers Register concludes that, in fact, things are getting a little worse in the Mountain State. From August 2015 to August 2016, West Virginia lost 3,243 industrial jobs - more than in any year since the recession.

It will surprise no one that job loss was greatest in the coal industry - 1,861, or 21 percent of jobs, lost in 12 months. What may surprise some is the war on coal and affordable electricity finally managing to knock coal out of its spot as the Mountain State’s top industrial employer. That title now rests with the chemical manufacturing industry.

But coal is not even second, anymore. Industrial machinery takes that spot, despite having lost 7 percent of its jobs last year. Coal now ranks third.

Policymakers are at least partially to blame for the state’s hampered ability to make up for those losses, as the president of Manufacturers’ News, which published the report, cited “tight regulations” as one of the factors making it difficult “for other sectors to offset those losses.”

It is truly a case of West Virginia’s industrial workers being kicked while they are down.

But the lesson is an important one: While lawmakers and other government officials fight against federal assaults on our industrial employment base, they should be getting out of the way of the employers who could make a big difference to our economy’s transition, if only we would allow them to do so.



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