By TAYLOR STUCK
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — For the seventh year in a row, the West Virginia indigent burial fund will be depleted months before the end of the fiscal year, placing a large burden on the state’s funeral homes and highlighting the need for new legislation to stretch the fund longer.
A letter sent to funeral homes dated Feb. 1 from the Department of Health and Human Resources states the $2.2 million fund will run out at the end of the month. This is the second year in a row the fund has run out at the end of February after four years of running out in March or April.
The fund, managed by DHHR, pays reasonable funeral costs for indigent, or poor, people. The amount paid out to funeral homes is $1,250, which typically covers a casket and an outside container.
House Bill 4024, sponsored by Del. Amy Summers, R-Taylor, would reduce the amount of funds paid out by DHHR to $1,000 while making cremation, the cheaper option, the preferred method of interment unless there is a religious objection.
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