Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Dec. 18 letters to the editor

Law protects patients from predatory prices

I have spent my entire career working in the health care space and I wanted to bring awareness to a key piece of legislation that was implemented recently that will help West Virginia patients and their families access critical medications.

Following bipartisan support in the Legislature, and our governor’s signature, HB 2263 officially went into effect on July 1, 2022. This bill requires insurers and their pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to pass down rebates and discounts they secure from pharmaceutical manufacturers directly to patients, instead of pocketing savings to pad bottom lines.

As a nurse, I can tell you that the insurance industry and their PBMs have a long history of not putting patients first. From coverage denials to high premium and deductible costs, these corporate players have been hurting patients’ pocketbooks and restricting access to care for decades.

However, now that HB 2263 has been signed into law, their ability to profit off of West Virginia patients has been diminished.

I want to thank our local lawmakers for the bipartisan work they did to pass this legislation and protect patients. Thousands of West Virginians will now be able to better access the care they need thanks to their work.

Emily Smaniotto

W.Va. teaching outdated reading methods

There is a problem in education. A problem that thrives on out-of-context statistics like poverty or COVID or family complexities that allow educational myths to breed and grow. A problem that leads state and local educational leaders to raise a triumphant battle cry when the gap between West Virginia’s 4th grade readers has never been wider (Nation’s Report Card). A problem that has professionals whitewashing why 40% of West Virginia 4th grade students cannot read at basic levels. So what’s the problem? Educational leaders fail to invest time and leadership into the science of reading. Instead, leaders double down on extinct educational practices and blame the students for their lack of learning.

 West Virginia has its share of challenges, but our children should not be one of them. Every state suffers from complex societal issues, but their children are learning. There are over 20 years of scientific studies supporting the Science of Reading that led to 95% of kids reading. So why aren’t West Virginia children reading compared to other kids elsewhere?

Sadly, I found the educational equivalent of the avocado-green bathrooms from the 1970s, outdated and stinky.

First, schools are not teaching students to read at the word level (decode); they are teaching students to read at the sentence level. These concepts by former educational stars Clay, Calkins and Fountas and Pinnell were debunked a decade or more ago but are still being used in schools and still used to benchmark children in Monongalia County Schools.

Second, there are no state-enforced requirements for school curricula. Sure, the code says the curricula should be grounded in best practices. Still, no one is checking whether the vendors’ products are based on valid research.

Third, no one is mandating the education of educators on the Science of Reading.

Children have been made the scapegoat for educational failures. “Leaders” find it easier to blame the voiceless than to look objectively at their institutional practices. As long as this is allowed to continue, our children will never have equity and the problem will never be solved.

Nicole Kirby

Secondary roads should not be neglected

I see all these signs about “Roads to Prosperity,” and I was wondering why the secondary roads were not included in that.

Don’t the ones who live on those roads deserve the same work as the main roads? I know the main roads have to be done first but I think the secondary roads should have the same priority. Just because we live on secondary roads doesn’t mean we should be ignored for repairs.

I live on such a road, and it needs repaired very badly. It’s a route road (W.Va. 28) off of W.Va. 7 West that can take you to Cassville or Mount Morris, Pa., and we can’t get it worked on.

We have one ditch that needs cleaned out every spring because it is filled with leaves from the fall, and the culverts are bad and need replaced, so the water doesn’t run over the road from the rain. The brush needs cut so it doesn’t scrape your car. The road needs graded because the potholes are getting deep, and it needs to be graveled. All this work needs to be done at least once a year in order to keep the road well maintained.

Just because we are few and far between doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be able to get in and out for doctors’ visits, shopping and anything else that might come up.

Lavonia Miller

Fracking ‘pros’ never appear, but its ‘cons’ do

According to the Ohio River Valley Institute, in the most heavily fracked county in West Virginia, the industry promise of jobs never materialized.

What did materialize, though, was a reduced population, dangerously polluted air and water and major damage to infrastructure. Also damaged was the clean, wild and wonderful West Virginia that supports tourism, recreation and farming. Yet even with the highest gas production in West Virginia, Wetzel County still suffers from double digit unemployment.

A recent study conducted by the Environmental Working Group states just one fracked drilling site deploys harmful chemicals sufficient “to contaminate more than 100 billion gallons of drinking water to unsafe levels … more than 10 times as much water … New York uses in a single day.” These chemicals are often so dangerous that frack-waste cleanup crews report sores covering their legs and soles burnt off boots.

Wetzel County also had many frack vehicle accidents; dump trucks smashed through guardrails, semis straddling roads, cranes toppled into ravines and drill rigs fallen off semis — on deeply rutted roads littered with industry equipment. Meanwhile, Marcellus gas is mainly exported to other countries, keeping U.S. natural gas prices high.

However, as a Bloomberg report put it, extraordinarily generous fossil-fuel subsidies hide the true cost of fracking, wherein the average well production declines by 60% in the first year. So, though needing more and more costly wells to maintain output, destructive drilling — using taxpayer dollars — continues.

While fracking created startlingly few jobs in Appalachia, most of them no longer exist. Instead, the money went to corporate profits and out-of-state workers.

Barbara Daniels