Patrick Morrisey has sued to eliminate the critical healthcare dollars and programs that keep our hospitals open and our people healthy. The programs that Morrisey is attacking include:
- Coverage for people with pre-existing conditions
- Funding for addiction treatment, community health centers, black lung clinics, school-based health centers, and critical access hospitals
- Fix for the Medicare Donut Hole (gap in coverage for seniors)
- Reforms to private health insurance:
- No annual or lifetime limits on insurance coverage
- Guaranteed coverage of essential health benefits
- Coverage for children up to age 26
- Expanded federal black lung benefits ("Byrd Amendments")
- Guaranteed healthcare for the working poor (over 600,000 West Virginians)
Petsonk will stop Morrisey's dangerous lawsuit against those programs. He will proactively work to secure life-saving support for our citizens and our economy.
Protecting Working Families
The Attorney General must protect what our people have worked so hard to earn: fair wages, retirement security, fair access to credit (home loans, student loans), and a safe and healthful workplace.
Petsonk has proven that he knows how to deliver justice for working families because he has secured millions of dollars in judgments to improve life for our people. Petsonk's collaborative leadership over the past decade has secured severance pay, black lung benefits, and healthcare coverage for working families statewide and beyond.
Petsonk's top objectives for advancing the rights of working families:
- Wage & Hour Enforcement. Our state's wage payment, minimum wage, maximum hour, and wage bond laws too often go unenforced. Petsonk would ensure adequate investigators and legal attention to achieve prompt enforcement of these laws that simply ensure that our workers receive the wages and benefits that they have worked to earn.
- Bankruptcies & Mass Layoffs. Our communities have been decimated when employers conduct mass layoffs or plant closures without advance notice. We've seen it with hospitals, coal mines, plants, mills, and more. When companies close down, our Attorney General should swing into action to represent our workers wherever possible and to represent our local and state governments to aggressively recover any and all proceeds that are owing to the public---be it in bankruptcy court, federal court, or state court.
- Consumer Protection. The Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division plays a critical role in protecting working families from unfair and deceptive acts and practices in the collection and servicing or mortgages, student loans, medical debt, and more. Petsonk would prioritize an increase in the number of settlements to protect our people in this critical area.
- Safe Working Conditions. As Attorney General, Petsonk would collaborate with the Office of Coal Miners' Health, Safety, and Training, and other critical state agencies, to ensure that all workers are protected from safety risks and health hazards on the job.
Protecting Public Education
The West Virginia Constitution provides our citizens with a fundamental right to an adequate and equitable system of free schools. W. Va. Const. Art. XII, Sec. 1.
Petsonk's experience litigating with the State Board, Department of Education, and School Building Authority have taught him the value of collaboration and transparency in promoting an effective system of public education. Petsonk stands for a wide-ranging approach to protect the students, professionals, families, and communities who rely on our free public education system.
- Better Compensation. The Attorney General should ensure that first-class, competitive wages and benefits are administered in a fair manner, and that employee grievances receive a meaningful, prompt hearing with just remedies available.
- Saving Schools & Jobs in Our Communities. Petsonk would work proactively with the School Building Authority, local communities, and other stakeholders to protect our community schools---preserving jobs, promoting high-quality education, and strengthening our communities through smart institution-building.
- Public Funding. We must secure new sources of revenue to protect the public nature of our education system. That is, levies and bonds can only take us so far before the State must identify & allocate new revenues to preserve basically sufficient schools. Petsonk stands for a truly public model for funding schools: public dollars that are equitably allocated. No diverting dollars to promote private schools or charter schools.
- Ensuring Quality in Higher Education. The Attorney General must continue and escalate efforts to monitor private colleges and training programs to eradicate consumer fraud and discrimination.
- Fighting Student Debt. The Attorney General must collaborate with high schools, colleges, and universities to help students avoid crushing student loan debt. Petsonk would aggressively litigate to save families who are victimized by unconscionable debt.
- Fighting Addiction in Schools. The Attorney General, in furtherance of our Human Rights Act, must ensure adequate wraparound services for students and families affected by addiction.
- PEIA. The Attorney General's Workers' Rights Task Force should maintain procedures for ensuring continuous improvement in PEIA---preventing discrimination and ensuring fair procedures on claims.
Opioid Crisis: Fighting Substance Use Disorder
Our friends, families, and fellow citizens have struggled to beat substance use disorder --- for decades now --- often stuck without adequate support in the vicious cycle of relapse, re-offending, recidivism. To beat the addiction crisis, we have to de-stigmatize long-term recovery, and ensure that our neighbors can get back in the workforce and back with their families.
Petsonk has a three-part strategy to turn the tide on substance use disorder, based on expert guidance and community input:
- Litigate against wrongdoers. We must ensure that our State collaborates with the most aggressive Attorneys General nationwide to recover as much as possible to offset the $8 Billion annual pricetag of the addiction crisis in the Mountain State.
- Preserve funding for drug treatment. Patrick Morrisey is suing to attack the most significant source of drug treatment funding --- the Medicaid program, which provides the financial backbone of our addiction response system. Petsonk would halt this reckless lawsuit. Petsonk would ensure that we make the most of those federal dollars, rather than senselessly casting aside the most significant and reliable tool that we have in our fight against substance use disorder.
- Secure support for long-term recovery. Substance use disorder is a disease that requires sustained support for long-term success in recovery---those are simple facts as a matter of medicine and a matter of law. The Attorney General directly manages the State's Civil Rights Division and has a major role as counsel to state agencies. Petsonk has published legal scholarship on this topic and educated lawyers statewide.
Petsonk champions an aggressive strategy to improve outcomes for long-term recovery by providing necessary accommodations and support to destigmatize the recovery process and ensure access to treatment, counseling, and services. The Attorney General must better support the Human Rights Commission, Workforce Development, Rehabilitation Services, housing agencies, Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the private sector.