Too many West Virginians are going without healthcare and that has to change. That's the message from the West Virginia Campaign for a Healthy Future. The group released a new poll Thursday that shows 88 percent of state residents support health care reform.
George Manahan, the campaign’s executive director, says he was surprised by the high percentage. He says even more surprising and downright scary was the number of West Virginians who can't afford or don't have access to health care one in four. "And if you look in the Mercer County area the numbers go up higher to 30 percent of people who didn't go to see a doctor because of access,” Manahan said.
Manahan stresses the only way health care reform is going to come about in West Virginia is through teamwork. He says that’s what the campaign is all about. "Organizations that have really worked against each other in the past: the pharmaceutical industry and the AARP, you got business, you got labor, you've got providers and insurance companies. The idea is to come together and support health care reform,” Manahan said.
Labor representative Elaine Harris says it can happen. "It would be so nice for business and labor to work together to where that [health care] comes off the table and we can deal with other things that are of critical importance,” Harris said, adding that over the past year, every contract negotiation she's been involved with revolved around health care.
Manahan says now is the time to take the numbers gathered in the survey and present them to lawmakers. "I think we see a unique opportunity to pass health care reform in West Virginia. Will it all be done in one year? No, it probably won't. I think it's a multi-year challenge,” Manahan said.
Supporters say addressing health care should include access to all West Virginians at an affordable price and paid for through a joint effort of individuals, businesses and government.