CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WDVM) — Healthcare has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds lately and West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito is leading the way to secure funding to improve the healthcare system in the mountain state.

Over the last two weeks, Senator Capito has co-sponsored as well as spearheaded multiple legislations that will provide funding to various branches of healthcare in West Virginia.

From expanding telehealth availability, to strengthening medicare’s hospice home care, and now to trying to secure funding for substance abuse treatment programs, Senator Capito explained that bipartisan healthcare legislation is incredibly important to the well-being of all citizens in West Virginia and beyond especially during this unprecedented time.

“I think increasing the chances of success means that reaching across the aisle and getting bipartisan solutions. These diseases and this mental health crisis does not know any political boundaries, so we shouldn’t have political boundaries on solutions.”

Senator Shelley Moore Capito

Capito has been a dedicated supporter of telehealth well before the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation and the world. Now, Capito believes that telehealth is the key to bringing quality medical care to all residents especially those who live in more rural areas. She also joined Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri to introduce an amendment for consideration to the impending coronavirus relief package. The amendment would provide additional funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) so the organization can continue their overall efforts to combat diseases and disorders that still affect millions of Americans.

Alongside Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Senator Capito introduced legislation that would expand Medicare’s hospice respite care benefit during a public health crisis. The legislation would the legislation would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to allow hospice patients to receive respite care at home and for longer periods of time during any public health emergency.

Respite care is defined as short-term relief for primary caregivers for hospice patients. Capito described how the COVID-19 pandemic has put higher levels of stress for primary caregivers because Medicare will only cover up to five days of respite care. However, respite care may only be provided in an inpatient facility, such as a hospital, hospice facility, or nursing home, and the benefit is limited to just five days at a time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare’s hospice respite benefit has been difficult for family caregivers to utilize as some families are reluctant to utilize the benefit. This would result in moving their loved one into a congregate living facility – such as a hospital or nursing home – where there may be a greater risk of contracting the virus.

Senator Capito partnered with her democratic counterpart, Senator Joe Manchin, to announce over $7 million dollars in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the Violence and Injury Prevention Program: Overdose Data to Action through West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR). The Overdose Data to Action program aids in data collection to better prevent and respond to overdose deaths in West Virginia. Capito stated that unfortunately during the COVID-19 pandemic, West Virginia has seen a rise in overdose deaths.