Medicaid Fraud Unit Move Bill One of Many Advancing in Legislature Thursday

Mar 7, 2019

The Capitol building in Charleston, West Virginia.
Credit Jesse Wright / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

A bill that would transfer control of a unit that fights Medicaid fraud to the West Virginia attorney general's office has been sent to the governor.

The House of Delegates voted 58-42 Thursday, March 7, to pass the bill, which was earlier approved by the state Senate.

The bill would transfer control of the fraud unit from the Department of Health and Human Resources.

Attorney General Patrick Morrisey says in a news release the move would make the unit more efficient. He says attorneys general operate Medicaid fraud control units in 43 other states.

Morrisey's office already fights Social Security disability fraud. That effort generated $6.2 million last year alone.

Fines for Unlawfully Passing School Buses

The West Virginia House of Delegates has passed a bill that would increase fines for passing a stopped school bus whose warning lights are flashing.

The House approved the bill on a 90-1 vote. The bill now goes to the governor.

Violators would see minimum fines doubled to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for a second offense under the bill. It also carries a maximum six-month jail term.

The bill also would double driver's license suspensions to 60 days for a first offense and 180 days for a second offense.

It also would require exterior cameras on the front and back of all county school buses bought after July 1.

Community College Tuition Assistance

A bill that would allow West Virginia to help residents attend community and technical colleges has been sent to the governor.

The state Senate voted 33-0 to concur with House changes to the bill.

The bill would authorize tuition grants to residents at least 18 years old who have completed a secondary program. Grants would be limited to courses of study that "satisfy a workforce need as determined by the Department of Commerce."

It would require passing a drug test each semester, maintaining a 2.0 grade-point average, taking at least six credit hours a semester and performing at least eight hours of community service.

Recipients would have to repay grants if they don't live in West Virginia for two years after getting their degree or certificate.

Seventeen other states offer similar programs.

Social Security Benefits Tax

A bill to eliminate West Virginia personal income taxes on Social Security retirement benefits has been passed by the state Senate.

The Republican-led Senate voted 33-0 to approve the bill. The bill now returns to the House, which must concur on Senate changes to phase in the elimination over three years.

Gov. Jim Justice proposed the cut in his State of the State speech.

The measure would mean a $50 million reduction in revenue collected if it becomes law.

West Virginia is among 13 states that currently tax Social Security benefits. Surrounding states aren't among them.