CHARLESTON, W.Va.¬†—¬†State Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Bill Crouch tells MetroNews he hopes Gov. Jim Justice puts plans to sell two state hospitals on a special session agenda.

The bills to sell Hopemont State Hospital in Terra Alta (HB 3102) and Jackie Withrow Hospital in Beckley (HB 2366) did not pass on the last night of the legislative session back on Saturday. Crouch believes the governor will have a special session on the state budget and he hopes he puts the hospitals on that agenda.

“We have residents in there that we are responsible for and we want to take good care of but that gets hard to do when the buildings are dilapidated and need constant repair,” Crouch said Monday.

The bills got hung up Saturday night when the Senate tried to attach assessment language from the Certificate of Need bill to the legislation, Crouch said.

“I wish that had not been placed in those bills but it was and it ultimately drug them down. But I understand those bills may have been ready to move but they ran out of time,” he said.

The bills spell out plans to have the beds the hospitals are licensed for sold to private companies that would build new hospitals in the same areas. Longtime state workers would be offered severance packages, Crouch said.

Crouch expects there will be a special session because he believes the governor will veto the budget bill passed by lawmakers. It includes a $48 million cut to the DHHR’s Medical Services line, basically Medicaid reimbursements to providers. Crouch said with the federal match it’s potentially up to a $200 million cut.

“It is a significant cut to the department. It would be a significant blow to providers,” he said.

The approved budget did not cut funding for the DHHR’s waiver programs.

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