West Virginia editorial roundup
The Associated Press
Jun. 07, 2017
Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
The Charleston Gazette-Mail on if Sen. Capito will save West Virginia's health care:
A moment of truth looms for Sen. Shelley Capito, R-W.Va.
Will she stand with her party and support a GOP health "reform" that revokes medical insurance for huge numbers of West Virginians? Or will she have courage enough to defy her party's leadership and resist?
It will pose a supreme test of character for Capito, and for the U.S. Senate. If just a few Republican senators balk, the GOP plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act — which brought health coverage to more than 20 million Americans — will fail.
Capito is generally moderate in her principles. Washington observers sometimes list her among a few GOP senators who might refuse to kill the ACA.
She certainly had problems with a House version of such a bill and, along with Senate colleagues, voiced them in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed an ACA replacement that would wipe out insurance for 23 million Americans, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said 122,800 West Virginians would lose coverage, pushing them into desperation and pursuit of charity. Capito, along with Sen. Joe Manchin, also expressed concern at that finding.
Disgustingly, all three West Virginia House members — Alex Mooney, Evan Jenkins and David McKinley — voted to halt coverage for millions. They joined the heartless act of cruelty.
Senate GOP leaders are trying to revise the House bill, but party whip John Cornyn of Texas said, "80 percent of what the House did, we're likely to do."
If the final Senate version revokes care for 80 percent of those 122,800 West Virginians, it would throw nearly 100,000 Mountain State folks into despair.
The CBO also said the House bill would let insurers raise premiums about 20 percent — and also let them block coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. West Virginia has a high ratio of aging, sickly residents with such conditions.
Charleston leaders of the Alliance for Healthcare Security and a group called Protect Our Care are among those urging Capito to resist. A leader said:
"The recent CBO report confirmed that any version of health care repeal will cut coverage, raise costs and gut protections, all to give huge tax cuts to the wealthy. Capito's Senate Republican leaders are making secret, Republicans-only deals to pass a bill that will look just like the House bill. They are ignoring public opposition and refusing to listen to the experts who know how much it would hurt to rip apart healthcare and raise costs."
When the moment of truth comes, we hope Capito follows her better angels and protects care for West Virginians.
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on shutting down pill mills:
Buckeye State residents should, perhaps, take some pride in knowing the American Medical Association calls Ohio the top state in the country in terms of monitoring prescription drugs. The Board of Pharmacy's Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, established in 2006, has processed more than 24 million queries from doctors and other health professionals. In 2015, Gov. John Kasich had it integrated directly into electronic medical records and pharmacy dispensing systems.
According to the Board of Pharmacy, "OARRS collects information on all outpatient prescriptions for controlled substances dispensed by Ohio-licensed pharmacies and personally furnished by licensed prescribers in Ohio. Drug wholesalers are also required to submit information on all controlled substances sold to an Ohio licensed pharmacy or prescriber. The data is reported every 24 hours and is maintained in a secure database."
By all accounts, it is a fantastic system, and one worth accolades from the likes of the AMA.
Some experts, however, believe Ohio did such a good job with that crackdown that it drove addicts to even stronger street drugs. And the number of drug — prescription or otherwise — overdose deaths in Ohio is increasing: 4,149 died last year (a 36 percent increase from the previous year); and coroners across the state says this year's overdose fatality numbers are outpacing 2016.
Dr. Thomas P. Gilson, Cuyahoga County's medical examiner, last month told a U.S. Senate committee studying ways to combat illicit drugs, "The opiate crisis is a slow-moving mass-fatality event that occurred last year, is occurring again this year and will occur again next year."
Certainly the majority of more recent deaths are due to heroin, fentanyl, carfentanil and any number of deadly combinations and new ingredients.
Ohio officials did a remarkable job of locking down the pill mills that started this plague. It turns out that was just the beginning of their fight. It is time for them to focus the same common sense and resources that created OARRS into winning the next battle — and, eventually, the war.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph on new scams:
It seems there is no limit as to how far scammers will go when it comes to trying to steal the hard-earned money of area residents. Now a new scam is circulating across the region involving callers who claim to represent utility companies.
The impostors are posing as electric, cable/satellite television and public service district employees in an attempt to steal money and personal information with the threat of service interruption, according to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
"Scammers will go to any lengths to deprive people of their hard-earned money," Morrisey said. "It's very important to confirm the caller legitimately represents the utility before authorizing payment."
Consumers should be wary of any caller who demands prepaid debit cards, such as Green Dot cards, as a form of payment. The same applies for callers who give inadequate notice of an impending disconnect or interruption in service. Both should be a red flag, according to Morrisey.
The attorney general's office is urging area residents to follow these basic, common-sense tips:
Never give personal information via phone, mail or internet without verifying the recipient.
Be wary of anyone demanding immediate payment.
Write down all necessary contact information for the caller.
Call the utility's legitimate customer service number to verify payment is due. This information can be found on a monthly bill or the company's website.
Education is the best defense against scammers, con artists and identity thieves. All area residents should be vigilant, and on alert, for such scam phone calls and emails.
If you believe you are the victim of a utility scam please contact your local law enforcement agency, or the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, at 1-800-368-8808.