CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice hosted a virtual ceremony Wednesday inside the Governor’s Reception Room in Charleston, where he signed into law three bills designed to improve West Virginians’ lives in various ways.

“I’m excited to sign these bills – some really important legislation we got through,” Gov. Justice said. “I congratulate all those in the House and the Senate that helped move these bills along.”

SENATE BILL 634
This bill requires law enforcement and correctional officers to be trained on the best ways to interact with those with autism spectrum disorders.

“Research has shown us that interactions with law enforcement can be more dangerous for those with autism spectrum disorders,” Gov. Justice said. “Many times, these officers without training come to opinions that can lead them to suspect these people because their behavior may be something they can’t pick up on.”

“Now, our first responders will receive the proper training on how to recognize and interact with individuals with autism and other mental health conditions,” Gov. Justice continued.

“Senate Bill 634 is a really significant step in helping police officers and the community in general understand autism better and hopefully will prevent some really poor outcomes,” said Dr. Marc Ellison, Executive Director of Marshall University’s Autism Training Center. “I’m aware of only two states that require autism-specific training for police officers. So once again, West Virginia, at least in the world of autism support, is kind of a pioneer in leading the way.”

“Thank you again, Governor, for your support in improving life quality for those in West Virginia living on the autism spectrum,” Dr. Ellison continued.

HOUSE BILL 2263
This bill will make West Virginia the first state in the country to require drug discounts or rebates, negotiated by insurance companies for patients, to be passed on to patients by requiring insurance companies and benefits managers to share the savings they receive in the form of rebates from drug manufacturers.

As a result, this bill will lower prescription drug costs for individuals on commercial insurance plans.

“With this bill, West Virginia will lead the country in lowering prescription drug prices for many of our residents,” Gov. Justice said. “I am honored to do my part and sign this bill so that we can help thousands of West Virginians afford their prescription drugs.”

“Thank you, Governor, for signing House Bill 2263 and recognizing the huge benefits that this bill will bring to West Virginia patients,” said George Manahan, Director of the Charleston Parkinson’s Support Group.

“From the perspective of the patient community, House Bill 2263 will have the most significant impact on our residents of any bill passed during the legislative session. It is first-in-the-nation legislation that will save West Virginians with commercial health insurance – nearly 800 residents – millions, if not billions of dollars on prescription medicines,” Manahan continued. “These lower prices will also mean more West Virginians will be able to afford and then be able to take their medicines, leading to better, healthier lives.”

SENATE BILL 714
This bill expands the scope of practice for physician assistants, allowing them more freedom to work with their collaborating physician to provide care in line with their education, training, and experience, providing that the provision of such care by the physician assistants should be fairly reimbursed by insurers and other health plans.

“I salute all of those that are making this possible for the healthcare and goodness for our people,” Gov. Justice said. “At the end of the day, our people deserve the best care, and this will incentivize our graduates and PAs who are here to stay here.”

“Thank you, Governor, for signing this bill and realizing how important this legislation was and is to the future of the PA profession in West Virginia, but more so the healthcare of the citizens of our state,” said Dean Wright, Clinical Coordinator for Marshall University’s Physician Assistant Program. “This bill will go a long way to let those PAs who we are training here and graduate from here, to stay here and practice. It will be enticing for them to do that. Again, the ultimate beneficiary is going to be the patients and citizens of the state.”

“It’s a wonderful day for both current and future PAs in West Virginia, especially the patients of West Virginia,” said Nick Vance, Advocate with the West Virginia Association of Physician Assistants. “We greatly appreciate you, Governor Justice, for your support of the PA profession and your strong leadership and commitment to the frontline workers during this pandemic.”

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