CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Preventive care, chronic disease management, and promoting healthy lifestyles should be the top priorities of a health-care innovation initiative to launch in May, state Health and Human Resources acting Secretary Rocco Fucillo said Tuesday.
As discussed in the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee, the plan calls for working with physicians, medical schools, hospitals and health-care providers to improve the quality of health for state residents while controlling costs.
"It has to be a public-private partnership," Nancy Sullivan, assistant to the secretary, told committee members.
Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, said he hoped the initiative would succeed where other recent efforts to improve public health, such as GOHELP (the Governor's Office of Health Enhancement and Lifestyle Planning) had faltered.
Jenkins said it is significant that there is some stability in leadership in state government for the first time since Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., died in 2010.
"For the first time in a long time, I feel like we've got a stable, four-year landscape," he said.
"One of our issues with GOHELP was that we were never sure the previous administration really embraced that concept," Jenkins added, referring to then-Gov. Joe Manchin, elected midway through Byrd's term to fill the Senate vacancy.
Sullivan said the initiative would set up workgroups to address specific aspects of improving the health of state residents, including:
* Better health outcomes to develop ways to provide patient-centered medical homes, increase primary care providers, and expand preventive care programs.
* Better health care, to develop physician-driven improvement plans for health services.