Opinion

Initiative to wean folks from ER care a good step

An editorial from The Register-Herald

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Federal appellate court rulings this week may have clouded the long and problematic rollout of the Affordable Care Act, but in West Virginia officials are moving forward with a program to wean folks away from the emergency room as a first-choice health care option.

Karen Bowling, cabinet secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, helped launch the new initiative.

Bowling is the face of new public service announcements that the new West Virginia recipients of federal health insurance break old habits of forgoing preventative care and overusing hospital emergency rooms.

Bowling, accompanied by Rocco Massey, Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital’s CEO, and Dr. Ayne Amjad, an internist and primary care physician affiliated with the hospital, said West Virginia ranks 50th in preventable hospitalizations.

“This is not only about those who have just obtained coverage. This is about getting everyone to focus on the concept of prevention,” she said.

Bowling describes herself as “a mother, a grandmother and a nurse.”

Her message to those who are new to having health insurance is to get a primary care physician and get preventative screenings that may be available to them at little or no cost with their new coverage.

This message is timely, and provides a map not just to better health care for the insured, but also an effective cost-control measure for hospitals..

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