West Virginia

The Situation

In 2007, West Virginians' health care was in crisis, with no solution in sight.  

Data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that West Virginia had among the highest rates childhood and adult obesity in the country.  Associated with high obesity rates were high and rising rates of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and co-morbid depression 

West Virginia was spending over 13 percent more on health care than the national average.  The high costs were jeopardizing the competitiveness of West Virginia businesses and threatening living standards of working families.

In 2007, an America’s Agenda team led by United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts and America’s Agenda President Doug Dority met with a state labor leaders led by West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue. The subject of discussion: the far-reaching health reform won recently in Vermont. Roberts and Dority urged consideration of a similar strategy towin reform in West Virginia. A few months later, the West Virginia AFL-CIO endorsed partnership with America’s Agenda to launch a new campaign for comprehensive health reform in the state.         

Campaign Strategy

America’s Agenda worked closely with its campaign partners at every step to design and carry out an effective campaign strategy.  Key elements included the following: 

Key 1:  Pre-Campaign Bridge-Building between Former Adversaries – Bitter adversity among health care stakeholders created a serious impediment to winning reform in West Virginia.  America’s Agenda convened discussions over trial cooperation among former reform opponents.  A successful trial initiative created willingness to broaden cooperation toward winning comprehensive reform legislation. 

Key 2:  Hammering-Out Common Campaign Goals – A range of organizations, both labor and business, responded to a call to launch a comprehensive state health reform campaign.  The West Virginians’ Campaign for a Healthy Future was founded.   Member organizations adopted a bold statement on the Campaign's Mission and Standards for Reform.  

Key 3: Continuous Recruitment – Continuing growth in Campaign membership would be a key to the success of every aspect of the campaign. The Campaign was built into an unprecedented alliance of more than 50 statewide entities, including labor, business, provider, and patient organizations.  

Key 4: Positive Messaging – Given the soft support for health reform among some elected state leaders, messaging at press and public campaign events was relentlessly positive, focusing on business/labor consensus and strong public support for reform legislation. The Campaign commissioned public opinion surveys from the Governor’s personal pollster to reinforce credibility of its messages among political leaders.  

Key 5: Media - The Campaign shaped public dialogue with an active earned media strategy and reinforced it with paid full-page Campaign ads placed strategically in the Charleston Gazette and local newspapers. The West Virginians’ Campaign for a Healthy Future website became the online hub for the growing reform movement. 

Key 6: Direct Engagement in the Legislative Process – The joint State Senate and House of Delegates health care committees adopted an innovative, public-private partnership to create a state health reform plan. Legislators served side-by-side with public stakeholders on subcommittees charged with developing key areas of reform legislation. West Virginians’ Campaign for a Healthy Future representatives participated on all subcommittees – even chairing a number of them -- to assure that the final legislation met the Campaign’s health reform standards.

 

The Result

On May 28th, 2009, the West Virginia legislature enacted SB 414, establishing West Virginia as a leader in enactment of progressive, statewide health reform legislation.  

On June 17th, Governor Joe Manchin signed SB 414 into law, launching the first stage of a 5-year plan to extend affordable, high quality care to every West Virginia resident.  By promoting care coordination and reducing wasteful inefficiencies, West Virginia’s health care reform is projected to reduce growth of health costs by $2.7 billion by 2018.  Key features of the West Virginia’s health reform law include: 

  • Centralized Coordination of State Reform – The reform law creates (and funds) a new Cabinet-level office authority to coordinate the state’s health reform initiatives across all departments of state government
  • Creation of 4 Major Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilots – The new patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) will provide every enrollee with a physician-directed personal medical team that will coordinate and support care through all stages of disease prevention and treatment.  The medical home pilots are prototypes for a statewide medical home-based health care delivery system to be implemented within five years. 
  • Access for the Uninsured - One of the four PCMH pilots will be a statewide project to provide high-quality medical services to the uninsured. 
  • Streamlined Administration – The West Virginia reform plan targets duplicative, wasteful, and inefficient health care administration, beginning with creation of a single, simplified and modernized process for credentialing health providers.  
  • Integrated HIT Plan - The West Virginia health reform plan is bolstered by an agreement with Governor Manchin’s administration to channel adoption of health information technology (HIT) through a common, coordinating body: The West Virginia Health Information Network (WVHIN). 

 

The Situation

In 2007, West Virginians' health care was in crisis, with no solution in sight.  

Data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that West Virginia had among the highest rates childhood and adult obesity in the country.  Associated with high obesity rates were high and rising rates of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, heart disease, pulmonary disease, and co-morbid depression 

West Virginia was spending over 13 percent more on health care than the national average.  The high costs were jeopardizing the competitiveness of West Virginia businesses and threatening living standards of working families.

In 2007, an America’s Agenda team led by United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts and America’s Agenda President Doug Dority met with a state labor leaders led by West Virginia AFL-CIO President Kenny Perdue. The subject of discussion: the far-reaching health reform won recently in Vermont. Roberts and Dority urged consideration of a similar strategy towin reform in West Virginia. A few months later, the West Virginia AFL-CIO endorsed partnership with America’s Agenda to launch a new campaign for comprehensive health reform in the state.         

Campaign Strategy

America’s Agenda worked closely with its campaign partners at every step to design and carry out an effective campaign strategy.  Key elements included the following: 

Key 1:  Pre-Campaign Bridge-Building between Former Adversaries – Bitter adversity among health care stakeholders created a serious impediment to winning reform in West Virginia.  America’s Agenda convened discussions over trial cooperation among former reform opponents.  A successful trial initiative created willingness to broaden cooperation toward winning comprehensive reform legislation. 

Key 2:  Hammering-Out Common Campaign Goals – A range of organizations, both labor and business, responded to a call to launch a comprehensive state health reform campaign.  The West Virginians’ Campaign for a Healthy Future was founded.   Member organizations adopted a bold statement on the Campaign's Mission and Standards for Reform.  

Key 3: Continuous Recruitment – Continuing growth in Campaign membership would be a key to the success of every aspect of the campaign. The Campaign was built into an unprecedented alliance of more than 50 statewide entities, including labor, business, provider, and patient organizations.  

Key 4: Positive Messaging – Given the soft support for health reform among some elected state leaders, messaging at press and public campaign events was relentlessly positive, focusing on business/labor consensus and strong public support for reform legislation. The Campaign commissioned public opinion surveys from the Governor’s personal pollster to reinforce credibility of its messages among political leaders.  

Key 5: Media - The Campaign shaped public dialogue with an active earned media strategy and reinforced it with paid full-page Campaign ads placed strategically in the Charleston Gazette and local newspapers. The West Virginians’ Campaign for a Healthy Future website became the online hub for the growing reform movement. 

Key 6: Direct Engagement in the Legislative Process – The joint State Senate and House of Delegates health care committees adopted an innovative, public-private partnership to create a state health reform plan. Legislators served side-by-side with public stakeholders on subcommittees charged with developing key areas of reform legislation. West Virginians’ Campaign for a Healthy Future representatives participated on all subcommittees – even chairing a number of them -- to assure that the final legislation met the Campaign’s health reform standards.

 

The Result

On May 28th, 2009, the West Virginia legislature enacted SB 414, establishing West Virginia as a leader in enactment of progressive, statewide health reform legislation.  

On June 17th, Governor Joe Manchin signed SB 414 into law, launching the first stage of a 5-year plan to extend affordable, high quality care to every West Virginia resident.  By promoting care coordination and reducing wasteful inefficiencies, West Virginia’s health care reform is projected to reduce growth of health costs by $2.7 billion by 2018.  Key features of the West Virginia’s health reform law include: 

  • Centralized Coordination of State Reform – The reform law creates (and funds) a new Cabinet-level office authority to coordinate the state’s health reform initiatives across all departments of state government
  • Creation of 4 Major Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilots – The new patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) will provide every enrollee with a physician-directed personal medical team that will coordinate and support care through all stages of disease prevention and treatment.  The medical home pilots are prototypes for a statewide medical home-based health care delivery system to be implemented within five years. 
  • Access for the Uninsured - One of the four PCMH pilots will be a statewide project to provide high-quality medical services to the uninsured. 
  • Streamlined Administration – The West Virginia reform plan targets duplicative, wasteful, and inefficient health care administration, beginning with creation of a single, simplified and modernized process for credentialing health providers.  
  • Integrated HIT Plan - The West Virginia health reform plan is bolstered by an agreement with Governor Manchin’s administration to channel adoption of health information technology (HIT) through a common, coordinating body: The West Virginia Health Information Network (WVHIN). 

 

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