Secretary Karen Bowling

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Children in the West Virginia welfare system are nearly three times as likely as those in other states to be placed in group-care facilities. But a new program, called Safe at Home West Virginia, is beginning to change this pattern.


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The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health announced legislation today that, if passed, could modernize the state’s public health system and increase revenue.

The proposed legislation would make it easier for local health department to bill insurance companies at the maximum allowable rates. 

Currently, the state subsidizes many local programs and services. In a Tuesday press conference, Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health Rahul Gupta said that this model is unsustainable - especially considering that more WV residents than ever before are insured.

    

A federal investigation of West Virginia’s system of care for children in need of mental health services shows the state fails to comply with federal law.

In a 30-page letter to Governor Earl Ray Tomblin dated Monday,  June  1, the U.S. Department of Justice said their investigation shows the state's mental health care system for children “fails to provide services to children with significant mental health conditions in the most integrated settings appropriate to their needs in violation” of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Title II of the ADA requires that “individuals with disabilities, including children with mental illness, receive supports and services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs,” according to the letter from the Department of Justice.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  The chairman of the House of Delegates Health and Human Resource committee says he will put discussion about the Ebola virus on the agenda when it meets next month. 

A letter signed by 11 Republican members of the committee asked Delegate Don Perdue to include the issue as a special agenda item during interim meetings in November.

The delegates recommend that the committee hear from Dr. Letitia Tierney, the Commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health and the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department about the steps that are being taken in West Virginia to address this serious health concern.  Perdue said today he has been in touch with Secretary of Health and Human Resources Karen Bowling about Ebola.

Chuck Roberts / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling Tuesday sent a letter to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to formally request the CDC, or its partners, immediately conduct further epidemiological and/or toxicological studies and address ongoing population surveillance or monitoring as a result of the January 9 Elk River chemical spill.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling talks to Beth Vorhees about the chemical leak in Charleston.

Meanwhile, a Congressional Hearing about the Spill brings federal lawmakers to Charleston.

Those stories and more!

The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee holds a field hearing on the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River, the House of Delegates considers a bill that would increase the minimum wage, and Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling talks about her agency's response to the water crisis.

Subscribe to the podcast for daily downloads of the program.

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State police are investigating abuse allegations at a nonprofit Romney center that serves children with developmental disabilities.
 
     The state removed 24 children from the Potomac Center last week. The move came after upper management reported the allegations to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
 

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, based on a letter sent to Secretary Karen Bowling from the CDC, is advising pregnant women in the West Virginia American Water service area affected by last week's chemical spill in the Elk River to drink bottled water.

A news release says the Health Department consulted with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the CDC recommends pregnant women continue drinking bottled water until there are no longer detectable levels of the chemical in the water distribution system.

Secretary Karen Bowling / Department of Health and Human Resources

Changes are in the works at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources in response to an audit that found the agency is inefficient.
 
     DHHR Secretary Karen Bowling plans to break the agency into three divisions covering human services, health services, and insurance and strategic planning. Each division would oversee several bureaus within the agency. Deputy secretaries would be appointed to lead the divisions.
 

In her first appearance before legislators, Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling said the department is not yet prepared to release a detailed response to a performance review completed earlier this year. Instead, she shared some generalizations about major issues the department is trying to address. The biggest of those issues is hiring and retaining the necessary personnel to run the state’s largest agency.

West Virginia’s substance abuse problem is one focus of the Integrated Behavioral Health Conference in Charleston this week.  Professionals from health care, government and law enforcement are meeting to find the best ways to handle substance abuse and other mental health needs.

Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen Bowling said the idea of the conference began a couple years ago and that the goal is to combine resources in hopes of learning and progressing the field.