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WV health departments could reap $7.7M from bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A bill backed by the Department of Health and Human Resources would allow local health departments to bill insurance companies at the maximum allowable rate, which could generate as much as $7.7 million.

It may be good timing for the bill, as lawmakers are practically searching under couch cushions for spare change to use as revenue to fill a $354 million budget gap in this fiscal year. The deficit was mostly created by the slide in the energy sector that has negatively impacted severance taxes.

DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling said the move is enhanced by the Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid.

“More people are insured than have been before,” Bowling said. That allows health departments to bill an insurance company for services that were previously done for free. She said health departments will not eliminate charity care for those who cannot afford services.

Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health said the bill will provide flexibility for health departments to diversify their revenue streams…

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