West Virginia’s Hospitals Are Struggling
As a state with one of the oldest and most chronically ill populations in the country, West Virginia hospitals and rural health care centers are crucial parts of our communities – but care comes at a cost.
Approximately 1.1 million of West Virginia’s 1.7 million residents are covered by public insurance policies, like Medicaid, Medicare, and PEIA. However, those policies do not cover the total cost of the treatment mountaineers receive at our hospitals.
These government-based groups reimburse only 32 cents for every $1 of care hospitals provide. Those partial payments – in addition to slashed budgets and other financial difficulties – leave hospitals struggling to fund the necessary staff, equipment, and space to keep them afloat.
As a result, many rural health care providers have shuttered.
Fairmont Regional Medical Center closed last year, citing losses of more than $19 million over the past three years, which included in part “decreasing reimbursement from all payors.”
According to the University of North Carolina’s Rural Health Research Program, more than 170 small rural hospitals have closed in the last 15 years. And, others are on the brink of doing so unless something changes. But there is hope for our community hospitals.
Prevailing Wage Can Help Restore Our Hospitals
There is a way to help our community hospitals. By supporting “Prevailing Wage,” we can revitalize critical health facilities throughout our state.
Prevailing Wage ensures local workers are paid fairly – based on a regional survey of rates for their particular level of skill and experience. In other words, it guarantees that West Virginians are paid the “going rate” for their labor and protects local wage and benefit standards – like private insurance.
Private insurance pays hospitals at a rate much higher than the aforementioned government-based groups. For example, more than 20,000 West Virginians work in the building and construction trades – and utilize private insurance plans. Private plan reimbursement rates enable hospitals to offset the losses caused by reduced payments from government-based groups.
Unfortunately, many companies working on tax-funded infrastructure projects are not required to provide fair wages or health insurance. It’s no wonder the number of West Virginians with private health insurance has dwindled, and our local hospitals are barely holding on.
West Virginia Needs Prevailing Wage
West Virginia needs Prevailing Wage to restore our healthcare systems and grow our local economies. Many other states are enjoying the prosperity associated with Prevailing Wage. We can strengthen our critical health care systems and ensure fair wages for our local workers if we support those leaders who support prevailing Wage.
How Can I Help?
Find your West Virginia representatives here and reach out to them to let them know you would like them to reinstate the Prevailing Wage Law.
You can help restore the Prevailing Wage Law by signing the petition. Sign your name, share with your friends, and let’s restore the Prevailing Wage Law to help keep our young people here and move West Virginia forward.