09 December 2008

Debate Continues over W.Va. Health Care Spending Rules

West Virginia doctors have been leading a charge for most of a year against rules that mandate state approval for spending on expanded services, new facilities and related areas.

As lawmakers heard during this week's interim meetings, "some in border counties have begun sidestepping (the rules) by setting up shop right across the state line, particularly in Ohio and Pennsylvania where comparable rules are lacking," The Associated Press reports.

The West Virginia Hospital Association offered its views Monday. It favors the "certificate of need" system, but suggested ways to streamline its process and ease its burden on non-health care projects pursued by regulated providers.

The hospitals also want a chance to compete with the doctors crossing the borders, by eliminating the review requirement hospitals face when seeking to expand across the state line. That spurred questions from Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, during Monday's interim meeting.

"Executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association, which represents doctors, Jenkins has been the committee's most vocal skeptic of the certificate of need system," the article said. "Jenkins said it sounded as if the hospitals had adopted a 'if you can't beat them, join them' response to the doctors."

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