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West Virginia House Passes Two Need Exemption Certificate Bills | News, Sports, Jobs

Of the. John Kelly said he supported opioid treatment facilities but believed they still needed to go through the certificate of need process. (Photo courtesy of WV Legislative Photography)

CHARLESTON — A day after rejecting several amendments seeking to remove most of West Virginia’s certificate of need program from the state’s code, the House of Delegates on Wednesday passed two bills providing exemptions for two types of health establishments.

The House passed Bill 4607, removing opioid treatment programs from the requirement for a certificate of need, in a vote of 61 to 38. The House also passed Bill 4643, exempting birth centers from the certificate of need, in a vote of 86 to 11. Both bills will go to the state Senate.

HB 4607 would remove opioid medication-assisted treatment programs — such as methadone clinics — from a section of the Certificates of Need Act that imposes a moratorium on such facilities.

“This moratorium has been in place… for decades,” said House Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Matthew Rohrbach, R-Cabell. “You can’t get a license to start a methadone clinic… all this bill is trying to do is put this drug on the same level as others.

According to the National Institutes of Health, methadone is a synthetic opioid used to help people who are addicted to opiates, such as heroin, withdraw from harder drugs. Only certain clinics, medical professionals and pharmacists are allowed to access methadone and must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

According to Rohrbach, there are only nine methadone clinics in West Virginia, seven of which are owned by Comprehensive Treatment Centers, a company with clinics across the United States.

“If you want to talk about special interests involved in this bill, there is a special interest against this bill and that would probably be the company that owns seven of the nine methadone clinics,” Del said. Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha. “Because if this moratorium was put in place years ago before we were here, they were given a license to make millions of dollars out of the misery of the people of West Virginia”

Rohrbach said the for-profit company earns up to $10 million a year from its West Virginia clinics. West Virginia University and Marshall University want to offer methadone programs, the moratorium prevents them from doing so.

“I’m not accusing anyone of having bad motives, but a lot of these treatment centers that seem to be more successful have a non-profit model,” Rohrbach, a physician at Huntington, said. “We set up a for-profit monopoly. Our universities have an interest in using this drug, but they cannot. They are enjoined by what this legislature has done. This bill is about putting a treatment modality in the hands of our people who want to use it.

Of the. John Kelly, R-Wood, said he supports medically assisted treatment facilities, but he expressed concerns about their complete removal from the CON process, which could limit the location of future facilities.

“I don’t feel bad about setting up a single treatment facility in the state of West Virginia. I think every single one of them is needed,” said Kelly. “I think the placement of these facilities is hugely more important than the number we have…I think the Certificate of Need is the answer to that.”

Of the. Ty Nestor, R-Randolph, opposed the bill, telling the story of his brother who attended a methadone clinic but still died of his addiction.

“This stuff is bad” said Nestor. “You can’t fight West Virginia’s opiate addiction with something like heroin and just call it something different… That’s not the way to go.”

“I’m a big proponent of abstinence-based recovery,” Pushkin said. “To me, that’s the gold standard and what we should be striving for, but frankly, it’s not working for everyone. If the clinics were closed, there would be a lot of accidental overdoses. It would be a huge disaster for this state.

According to DHHR, there were approximately 932 drug overdose deaths in West Virginia in 2021, a number that is expected to rise once data becomes available again. In 2020, the state recorded 1,336 overdose deaths, mostly from fentanyl and heroin.

“We’re all tired of this drug epidemic…we didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight,” said Rohrbach.

The other CON exemption bill, HB 4643, would allow more birthing centers in the state without requiring a certificate of need. The state has only one birth center – FamilyCare OB/GYN and Birth Center – located in Charleston.

Of the. Jason Barrett, R-Berkeley, is the bill’s lead sponsor. Barrett’s wife is expecting their first child.

“This bill is necessary to ensure that additional birthing centers will open in West Virginia,” said Barret. “I believe pregnant women in our state deserve access to options in their health care. They deserve to have access to quality services. And they shouldn’t have to cross our state lines to receive that care. »

A number of delegates — led by House Majority Leader Amy Summers, R-Taylor — attempted to amend HB 4643 on Tuesday to repeal CON or limit it. All these amendments failed. Summers was the main sponsor of House Bill 4013 which would also have repealed CON, but that bill was defeated in committee in a 10-12 vote earlier this month.

Steven Allen Adams can be contacted at [email protected]

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