Delegate Meshea Poore, D-Kanawha, said that it was premature to assume that more people would have insurance without first knowing whether the state would expand Medicaid.
"We're still determining how we're going to approach ACA, so for the local health departments to come today and say ACA is now happening and more people are being insured, so this seems to me very premature," Poore said.
Amy Shuler Goodwin, a Tomblin spokeswoman, said there was no link to Medicaid expansion or the ACA because health departments would have continued to provide free or reduced-price testing to those without insurance. Goodwin said that had the bill passed they would have encouraged local health departments to bill for services provided to people who have insurance. She said there was no timetable for a decision on Medicaid expansion.
Other delegates were concerned that people would not get tested after reading headlines saying that health departments would charge even though free testing would still be available.
"If I hear that my local health department may not give this test, I'm going to be prone not to go because I can't pay it," said Delegate Clif Moore, D-McDowell. Moore urged the Department of Health and Human Resources to dig within its finances to find money to fund the testing. Like most state agencies, DHHR will have its budget cut by 7.5 percent in the next fiscal year. The House also just passed a bill that would allow the salary of the next DHHR secretary to rise by up to $80,000.
Sen. Ron Stollings, a doctor and the bill's sponsor in the Senate, was disappointed.
"I don't think that DHHR can continue to pay for it because of the federal cutbacks," Stollings said. "I'm just afraid that they won't be able to do the tests and you might have a tough time finding a place. You'd have to go through hospitals or something like that instead of going to the local health department."
When the bill was before the Senate, Loretta Haddy, the director of epidemiology at DHHR, said that the bill was crucial to allow local health departments to continue operations.
"The only way we can deliver basic public health services is to amend our legislation to allow local health departments to charge for delivery services," Haddy said.