August 10, 2015

Manchin Promotes Preventive Practices | Beckley Register-Herald

Sen. Joe Machin, D-W.Va., said the country’s health care crisis is not insurmountable, but the current model is going at it wrong.

“We have the greatest health care system in the word if you’re broke ... But what we don’t do very well is to teach you how not to be broke,” he said.

Speaking before about 20 people Sunday at The Dish Cafe in Daniels, Manchin said the country and West Virginia need to start focusing on preventive practices, instead of healing people after they get sick.

The United States, he said, spends trillions of dollars on health care annually, more than any other country, yet the U.S. only ranks 39th in leading indicators to measure the health of a nation, he said. The statistic reflects data released recently by the World Health Organization. Preventive care, he said, has always been an issue close to him. And the younger people start, the better, he said.

While he was governor, Manchin was stunned to learn many counties did not offer physical education in their curriculum. Too costly, administrators told the then-governor.

“I asked if they still had recess. Remember recess? They threw open the school doors and pushed us outside to run,” he said to laughs.

Schools providing preventive health care is nothing new for the Mountain State. While growing up and attending schools in Farmington, he recalled the Marion County Health Department coming to the schools to give shots, physical examinations and other medical services.

The state should stress preventive care, especially for its youngest citizens, he said. Talking to a group of medical professionals, including a number of doctors, Manchin spoke of the importance of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). During his term as governor, it appeared funding for the program was going to be slashed. Instead, the state asked for a waiver to provide services to kindergartners and second, fifth and eighth grades.

But there is more to health than temperatures and ear aches. Without proper nutrition students’ health and education suffer, as study after study has shown. As the state’s top elected official, Manchin always toured school cafeterias last so he could stop and chat with “the lunch ladies.” The lunch ladies, he said, had unique insight into the students’ health.

With fondness in his voice, he told the story of one lunch lady, who bashfully admitted she broke the rules. But for the good of students. After school lunches were served, she was supposed to wrap up the day’s leftovers. Instead, she placed them on a table.

“She told me that somehow the leftovers just disappeared,” Manchin said, explaining the students took the leftovers home as the evening meal.

The lunch lady then told him about worrying about the students during long vacations. “I look forward to summer vacations, but the students have little food during that time,” Manchin recalled the lunch lady saying.

Walking a political tight rope Sunday, Manchin, the only Democratic member of West Virginia’s congressional delegation, echoed what members of both parties are beginning to say about the Affordable Care Act. After 50-plus times of trying to repeal the act, some lawmakers are now accepting it’s here. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld provisions of the act after protracted legal battles.

“The court has spoken. It’s the law of the land,” he said of the act.

The act has some good provisions, he said, such as children being able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until 26 years of age.

Manchin’s speech was sponsored by David Darden and Angela Ramsey as part of their fundraising efforts for the United Way’s Dancing With the Stars.  

By:  Daniel Tyson