CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state's health-care sector is expected to add 2,000 good-paying jobs over the next year but faces some challenges, said Tom Jones, president and chief executive officer of West Virginia United Healthcare System.
Jones was among the speakers Thursday at the 19th annual Economic Outlook Conference, presented by West Virginia University's College of Business and Economics at the Civic Center.
The organization Jones heads is the second-largest employer in the state (behind Walmart). Jones pointed out that Charleston Area Medical Center is the third largest employer, and that hospitals are typically among the two or three largest employers in most counties.
He said this important sector faces 10 challenges:
* The uncertainty of health-care reform. Will it be fully funded? Will the state choose to expand Medicaid? How will businesses respond to the reforms?
* West Virginia hospitals delivered $742 million in uncompensated care in 2010.
* Hospitals in West Virginia were paid $333 million under cost by Medicaid and PEIA in 2010.
* Declining reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid.
* "Almost 75 percent of West Virginia hospitals lost money from operations in 2010."
* "West Virginia is the only state that regulates the rates of hospitals. I think if it worked, you would see other states doing it."