CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Public Health Impact Task Force approved a model for restructuring public health services statewide at a meeting in Charleston on Wednesday.

State Chief Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta said the plan would establish a minimum package of health service provided statewide.

“What we agreed upon today is that we will commit to delivering health services which are designed for the 21st century,” he said. “We will develop those so that everyone across the state no matter where you live, you will get the same set of services at a cost efficient manner.”

Gupta said that the Mountain State’s medical standards have to be similar to those nationwide.

“We’ve got to have performance standards that are similar to national standards,” said Gupta. “We also talked about how our policy should express and demonstrate the most effective and efficient use of public resources across the state when we’re providing services.”

The looming budge shortfall, which could exceed $250 million, was also discussed.

“We’re going to look at efficiency; we’re going to look at our standards across the state, and ensure in the environment that were facing with budget challenges, that we can provide the best service in a cost-effective manner,” Gupta promised.

With West Virginia consistently ranking at or near the bottom in most health categories, Gupta thought the restructuring would help turn things around.

“Absolutely. And that was the main reason we’ve been working the last eight months on this task force,” he said. “To recognize (that) we may have health departments, and we may all be doing separately what we need to be doing, but the state of health for our residents isn’t the best.”

Gupta said the task force will likely begin looking at developing the minimum package recommendations early in 2016.

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