We applaud the efforts of West Virginia’s federal delegation — Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, as well as Reps. Carol Miller and Alex Mooney, for urging Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure to consider a “treat-in-place” model in West Virginia.

With a shortage of medical providers, as well as its rural environment, providing health care has ample challenges in the Mountain State.

Now West Virginia health-care providers and insurers are asking for an allowance to have first responders handle some calls without having to transport the patient to a hospital.

Our federal delegation is supporting the efforts of The West Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services and the West Virginia Hospital Association, along with a small coalition of emergency medicine physicians, EMS providers, and payers, who are urging the CMS to consider allowing a change in treatment options.

They have sent a proposal to CMS urging them to support a new “treat-in-place” model to reduce unnecessary emergency room trips by establishing medical triage lines for low-acuity 911 calls.

“The availability and effective functioning of the emergency medical services system and hospital emergency departments are of vital importance to all West Virginians,” said Jim Kaufman, president and CEO of the West Virginia Hospital Association.

“This demonstration will provide the flexibility necessary for our first responders to care for West Virginians in the appropriate setting and it aligns with the goals of better utilizing EMS and hospital staff while ensuring quality patient care and reducing unnecessary emergency room visits.”

In their letter to CMS, West Virginia lawmakers wrote:

“After receiving initial support for the treat-in-place option from the coalition and three statewide payers (Highmark, Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), and Medicaid) OEMS has started drafting protocols for three conditions:

— Diabetes, Hypoglycemia Evaluation

— Asthma/COPD Evaluation

— Seizure Evaluation

“Based on preliminary data for these three conditions, about 15,000 patients sought care in West Virginia hospitals’ emergency departments but were not admitted as inpatients in 2022.”

If CMS would approve this change in reimbursable treatment, the strain on emergency rooms across the state could be lessened while also making sure patients who need treatment receive it in a more timely and cost-effective manner.

With the strong support of health-care officials in the state, as well as our federal delegation, we believe CMS should strongly consider allowing the treat-in-place model to be implemented in West Virginia.