(1) Rising health care costs have a significant impact not only on the citizens of the state, but also the state's ability to develop a competitive advantage in seeking new business. Reducing this level of costs and developing new, more effective options for reducing growth in health care spending is essential to ensuring the health of West Virginia's citizens and to the advancement of a well-developed workforce.
(2) West Virginia spends thirteen percent more per person on health care than the national average. Moreover, the growth in spending in the state is higher than the national average. These rising costs have contributed to fewer employers, particularly small employers, offering health insurance as a benefit of employment. This is an occurrence that may further drive up health care costs throughout the state.
(3) West Virginia is among the highest in such health care indicators as childhood and adult obesity which provides a direct connection to higher rates of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart disease, pulmonary disorders and comorbid depression experienced in West Virginia. Nearly one third of the rise in health care costs can be attributed to the rise in obesity throughout the state and the nation. Additionally, high rates of chronic illness represents a substantial reduction in worker productivity.
(4) To address the concerns over rising costs, West Virginia must change the way it pays for care, shifting the focus to primary care and prevention. Seventy-five percent of health care spending is associated with treatment of chronic diseases requiring ongoing medical management over time. Patients with chronic diseases, however, only receive fifty-six percent of the clinically recommended preventive services. This lack of preventive services creates a seventy-five percent increase in health care spending.
(5) Health care delivery in West Virginia needs to be modernized. This will require substantial changes in how health care is delivered to the chronically ill, an increase in information technology tools used for patient management, a simplification of health care processing and a broad overhaul in our perceptions of wellness and prevention.
(6) West Virginians must be challenged to engage in a more healthy lifestyle, they must alter the focus of their perception of health care from one of episodic care to prevention and wellness efforts. Equally as important, is that health care providers must be engaged with their patients and in the process of delivery of health care and strive for continuous improvement of the quality of care they provide.
(7) West Virginia must develop a health care system that is sufficient to meet the needs of its citizens; equitable, fair and sustainable, but that is also accountable for quality, access, cost containment and service delivery.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2012 1st Special Session