The Memorial Health System is supporting complaints filed last week with the West Virginia Consumer Advocate at the office of the Insurance Commission, according to a press release from the system.
The filing is also supported by 400 West Virginia voters and more than 283 signatures on a petition. The group is requesting the Memorial Health System be brought into the PEIA provider network to the Governor's office in West Virginia.
The health system has been working with PEIA and West Virginia legislators to re-establish as a provider since August 2011 when patients approached the health system and representatives about their ability to access cancer care in Belpre. PEIA provides insurance for public employees in West Virginia, including state and local entities.
"We have been requesting to become a recognized provider of PEIA for two years," says Memorial Health System President and CEO Scott Cantley. "We have agreed to accept the same rates paid to West Virginia providers, even though they are a 50 percent reduction from our last contract, in the interest of helping patients. It is difficult to understand why the governor is discriminating against patients in our community."
The health system is working with PEIA and legislators to become a provider in their system to ensure access to all health care services and systems in the valley, according to the release.
"This enables patients to maintain long-standing relationships established with their physicians," said Dr. Dorai Rajan, Internal Medicine Specialist. "This is especially important for patients with chronic and life-threatening illnesses that need ongoing care. Patients choose health care provides based on a trusted relationship. This is even more sensitive with the growing loss of services provided at the St. Joseph's Hospital campus in Parkersburg."
"This region utilizes the resources of the entire Valley and health care is no different," he said. "Patients want and deserve care that is not only convenient but also provides the most appropriate care, technology and medical collaboration for them and their families."
The Mid-Ohio Valley is the only area in the state of West Virginia that patients aren't given the choice. There are no restrictions like this in existence in other border communities in the state of West Virginia.
Health system officials noted that having a choice is very important to patients. Ohio patients have the opportunity to choose health care services in West Virginia. West Virginia public employees should have the opportunity to receive care in their neighboring Ohio community, they said.
"It is critical that access to both physicians and health system services be provided to patients so physicians can continue to see physicians who they have a relationship with and who know their health care needs," says Cantley. "We owe it to our neighbors, friends and family to do what we can to lessen the toll health issues have on them and their family when possible. Ensuring access to the best care possible, based on their individual needs and desires is simply the right thing to do."