Gov. Joe Manchin

By Gov. Joe Manchin

Last week, our state legislature took major steps towards expanding access to basic, affordable healthcare for every working West Virginian by passing House Bill 4021.

Under this bill, two programs that I proposed during my January State of the State address would be implemented.

The first is a pilot program, known as the "Preventive Care Plan." It will provide a medical home for patients at primary care clinics or private doctors' offices across our state. Up to eight providers can participate, and may have up to three sites each. The program will allow subscribers access to primary care services such as checkups, sick visits, x-rays and lab tests at the participating clinic or doctors' office for one monthly fee. While this is not insurance and does not cover specialists or hospital costs, this program will provide basic preventive care at a very low price – starting at some clinics for as low as $1 a day.

The second proposal that is included in this legislation is called the "Individual Limited Health Benefits Plan." This effort provides for affordable insurance plans for individuals who want, and can afford, more in-depth coverage than the Preventive Care Plan. Commercial insurance carriers will soon start offering this portable insurance to West Virginia families starting at a low cost of $99 per month.

In addition to helping ensure that West Virginians who are currently without any healthcare coverage get critical primary and preventive health services, these two bold programs also are very cost effective and require no state subsidies, demonstrating the positive impact that can be achieved when government and the private sector work together.

We all know that the best health is preventive health. Every working person in West Virginia deserves access to basic, affordable healthcare and House Bill 4021 helps to make that idea a reality.

I applaud the members of the legislature for standing up for working West Virginians. This legislation is proof that by working together, we are moving West Virginia forward – showing the rest of the nation that we truly care for our own.

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