THEIR VIEW: Governor off target on health care

By The West Virginia Record | Oct 15, 2009


INWOOD -- Gov. Joe Manchin recently said in a newspaper article that we have only a choice between the current system and a government-run system.

"He noted many constituents have told him they don't like the idea of a 'public option,' or the establishment of a government-run health insurance agency.

"Well, let me tell you ... what other option do you have if you don't like it?" Manchin said. "You must like the one we have right now. If you're poor and you've got nothing, you use the emergency room -- the most expensive point of delivery. It doesn't do anything to keep you from getting ill. And when you get critically ill, they try to fix you. And that doesn't work."

He continued that for many workers who don't have insurance from their employers, "The only chance you have for health care is to use workers' (compensation). That isn't working."

This definitely isn't true.

You would think a governor who helped privatize the state run workers' compensation program would understand that the government has no business running an insurance company, much less taking over an entire insurance industry.

There is a much better option than the current system or a government-run plan.

I've been a leading advocate of changing state law to move us toward a system of more personal control and choice.

Unfortunately, they haven't been implemented yet, which isn't surprising since the Governor appears to be relying on the President to pass a government-run plan.

Manchin also says that a worker only has workers' compensation to rely on if he or she works for a company that doesn't offer health insurance.

That's not true, but Manchin is at least making an attempt to make a valid point here.

Some workers who work for a company that doesn't offer health insurance do have a tough time buying health insurance, but we as a state can help address that problem.

We can allow workers to buy health insurance in other states where coverage may be more affordable, and we can allow them a tax credit for buying health insurance on their own and through an employer. I am the lead sponsor of two bills that do just that.

Even though reforms are needed to make it easier for people to buy individual plans, individual plans are still cheaper than employer sponsored plans. It isn't as difficult for workers to buy health insurance on their own as some, like the Governor, would leave you to believe.

Miller, a Republican, has served as a delegate for southern Berkeley County since being elected in 2006. Currently, Miller serves as a ranking member on the Health and Human Resources Committee in the capacity as Minority Vice-Chair.

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