Gov. Justice signs three new bills

West Virginia Headlines

These cover autism interaction training for law officers, prescription drug costs, physician assistants

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 his office announced in a press release and on YouTube.

“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.”

The governor signed Senate Bill 634, which 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.”

Governor Justice also signed House Bill 2263 which 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, the governor says, 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.”

The third bill Governor Justice signed was 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.”

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