Government, WVPA Sharing

W. Va. House Health and Human Resources Committee advances HB 2953 regarding critical access hospitals

By Erica Young

West Virginia Press Association Capitol Reporter

CHARLESTON, W.VA — The West Virginia House Health and Human Resources Committee on Thursday discussed HB 2953, which would allow critical access hospitals to apply to become critical outpatient medical centers.

Joe Letnaunchyn, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association, answered questions on HB 2953. WV Press Photo.

The bill states in order to be eligible to apply, a hospital must have been designated as a critical access hospital for at least one year and, at the time of application, provide emergency and observational care to all patients (regardless of insurance status) 24 hours a day and seven days a week, and “have protocols in place for the timely transfer of patients who require a higher level of care.”

Joe Letnaunchyn, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association, answered questions to help make the bill’s purpose clearer.

He said the bill is important because there is a possibility Congress will pass legislation that would allow more flexibility in this area, but since West Virginia only has a licensure category for critical access hospitals, it would not be able to create the new facility type without its passage.

Delegate Margaret Staggers, D-Fayette, had several questions for Letnaunchyn, with her main concerns being how current hospitals and ambulances would be affected. Letnaunchyn assured Staggers that ambulances would not be affected in any way and hospitals would only be affected if they chose to apply for the process.

Staggers also repeatedly asked Letnaunchyn if this bill would be “just a name change” for the hospitals.

Letnaunchyn said it goes beyond that, calling it “another option in the toolbox,” and that “as we’re moving through the healthcare continuum. . .having more options for the delivery of care seems to make more sense for our communities.”

The committee voted on HB 2953 and it passed unanimously. It will now be reported to the full senate.


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