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Manchin says health-care costs troubling

October 21, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The very poor and elderly poor in West Virginia have health care, but "only the workers are left without health care," Gov. Joe Manchin III told leaders in business, industry and nonprofit groups Thursday in a visit to Martinsburg.

Manchin, who is wrapping up his first nine months as the Mountain State's chief executive, said he believes West Virginia could become a national leader in providing affordable health care for all of its citizens, "not universal or free, but affordable health care."

Health care was one of a litany of topics Manchin brought up at a roundtable discussion at the law offices of Martin and Seibert at 1164 Winchester Ave.

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He was scheduled to meet with similar leaders in Jefferson County later Thursday, according to Brian Kastick, an aide to the governor.

Manchin said health-care costs in the state need to be addressed.

"They're killing us," he said.

When he was young, health care was taken care of in schools by the school nurse, he said. Today, family practitioners could take care of citizens' basic health care, including preventive care, on an outpatient basis to cut costs for the state.

Manchin spoke of his first nine months in office and of his efforts to make West Virginia "open for business. It's more than a slogan, it's an attitude, a mind-set. We have to embrace opportunities. I've been in sales all my life and I'm always looking at the market. I have the best product in the world to sell."

About half of the population of the United States is within a 10-hour drive of West Virginia.

"We have the natural resources and the work ethic," he said.

The state's adjusted growth last year was its best ever.

"We are truly competitive now," he said. "More people are looking at West Virginia."

He also said it is as important to take care of the businesses already here as it is recruiting new business.

He said the state has a good educational system but it could better to train its workers for the 21st century.

Manchin, on a question from Martinsburg businessman Butch Pennington, said he plans to keep pushing for the completion of the W.Va. 9 widening project and to improve the Eastern Panhandle's infrastructure.

"There's a tremendous need here," he said.

Manchin will be back in the Panhandle today, helping the Martinsburg Correctional Center celebrate its opening in the afternoon and giving the keynote speech at City Hospital's centennial dinner at 7 p.m. in Martinsburg.

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