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House speaker elevates Health Committee

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The West Virginia House of Delegates' Health Committee has been elevated to a major standing committee, House Speaker Rick Thompson announced Nov. 14.

Thompson said he elevated the committee because of the "vast health care needs and challenges West Virginians face." The Health Committee will now have workload and status equal to the Finance, Judiciary, Education and Government Organization committees.

Thompson said he has heard from many delegates who would like the Health Committee to spend more time examining health care matters.

"The availability and affordability of health care is an extremely pressing issue, both at a national and state level," Thompson said in a news release. "And in our state our large senior population, and the many troubling health problems that are so prevalent here, make the issue all the more urgent.

"By allowing the House Health Committee to meet as often as the other four, longstanding major committees, much more time and energy can be dedicated to health-related legislation," Thompson added.

Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne, is chairman of the committee. He said he and Thompson have discussed the issue a number of times over the years, but now is the right time to make the move.

"Health care comprises more than 22 percent of our state budget in terms of expense," Perdue said. "It is assuming larger importance not only for our state, but nationally, and our demographics lend themselves to an ever-increasing share both fiscally and sociologically to the fabric of our government."