The Legislature finds and declares that the rise in obesity and related weight problems accompanied by the resulting incidence of chronic disease has created a health care crisis that burdens the health care infrastructure of the state. The Legislature also finds that the State of West Virginia must take an informed, sensitive approach to communicate and educate the citizens of the state about health issues related to obesity and inappropriate weight gain. The Legislature further finds that the state must take action to assist West Virginia citizens in engaging in healthful eating and regular physical activity. The Legislature further finds that the state must invest in research that improves understanding of inappropriate weight gain and obesity. These efforts are needed to coordinate the state’s interest in improving the health of its citizens and in reducing the cost of health care. Therefore, it is the purpose of this article to create, as an integral part of the Department of Health and Human Resources, an entity to coordinate the efforts of all agencies to prevent and remedy obesity and related weight problems and to ensure that all citizens are being educated on this serious health risk that is affecting the state.
There is hereby created the Office of Healthy Lifestyles within the Department of Health and Human Resources. The management of this office shall be provided in the manner determined by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to be in the best interest of the state and its citizens.
The Office of Healthy Lifestyles shall:
(1) Establish a Healthy Lifestyle Coalition to assure consistency of the public health and private sector approach to dealing with programs that address the problems that affect overweight and obese individuals; to provide a forum for discussing the issues that affect healthy lifestyles and to identify best practices that can be replicated. By July 1, 2005, the Governor shall appoint thirteen members of the Coalition whose terms shall be for a period of four years, and the members may be reappointed to a second term. The terms may be staggered by the Governor to assure continuity of experience on the coalition. Members shall represent state agencies, community organizations and other entities which have an interest and expertise in obesity. Members may not be compensated but shall receive reimbursement for expenses incurred while performing the business of the coalition. The Coalition shall meet monthly for at least the first eighteen months of the Coalition to develop and implement an action plan to meet the goals established by the Coalition;
(2) Establish a clinical advisory committee to assure a unified approach using the latest research to assure consistency in program development;
(3) Establish a statewide voluntary private sector partnership and recognition program for employers, merchants, restaurants and other private sector businesses to encourage the development or further advance current programs that encourage healthy lifestyles;
(4) Coordinate higher education training programs for dietary and exercise physiology students with rural health care providers;
(5) Coordinate existing health promotion initiatives to assure clear, concise and consistent communication;
(6) Solicit, accept and expend grants, gifts, bequests, donations and other funds from any source for programs that will enable the state to accomplish the goals of this program;
(7) Develop a cross-agency series of goals to ensure consistency throughout the system of providers and agencies working in the area of improving lifestyles;
(8) Establish as a goal to increase the prevalence of healthy weight among all people in the state because obesity leads to diabetes, heart disease, strokes and kidney failure. These diseases, often arising in older age as a result of unhealthy lifestyles that began during a person's youth, place an undue financial burden on individuals, the health care industry and state health care programs;
(9) Consider the resources of the local health departments and recommend ongoing relationships, as appropriate, between local health departments, family resource networks, faith-based organizations, cooperative extension services, farm bureaus and other health care providers;
(10) Encourage the development of incentives for participation in employee wellness programs. Incentives may be based upon, but should not be limited to, the employee's completion of health questionnaires or participating in healthy lifestyles initiatives, and may use experiences of successful initiatives that have occurred in this state. The action plan should include among its targets, state government employees in this incentive program;
(11) Build upon existing initiatives that focus on any of the coalition's goals, soliciting input from these initiatives and eliminating duplication of efforts;
(12) Report its progress annually by the first of December to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resource Accountability.
(a) The West Virginia Healthy Lifestyles Program will develop a statewide voluntary private sector partnership program to work with businesses throughout the state that encourage and promote healthy lifestyles among their employees and communities.
(b) Beginning July 1, 2005, those businesses voluntarily choosing to participate in the Healthy Lifestyles Program shall submit their own detailed programs to the Office of Healthy Lifestyles for review. The programs should be creative and unique, highlighting the efforts of the business to promote healthy lifestyles to West Virginians through sensible diet and physical fitness.
(c) The West Virginia Healthy Lifestyles program will develop a recognition program for private sector enterprises that develop or advance programs that address the problems affecting overweight and obese individuals and that promote a healthy lifestyle.
(d) Any business program promoting healthy lifestyles that is recognized by the Office of Healthy Lifestyles will be issued a universally recognized logo, suitable for public display by the business.
(e) Marketing of programs recognized by the Office of Healthy Lifestyles shall take place through all state agencies. The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, the Bureau for Medical Services and the West Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission shall aggressively market this program to their members for the purposes of health promotion among their members.
(f) The Office of Healthy Lifestyles shall market recognized programs to other businesses, as models, to help create additional programs promoting healthy lifestyles.
(g) The Office of Healthy Lifestyles shall report annually by December 1, to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability: (1) The number of participants; (2) the impact on businesses as established by a survey of participating businesses; and (3) the results of consumer satisfaction surveys all designed by the Office of Healthy Lifestyles.
There is hereby created in the state Treasury a separate special revenue account, which shall be an interest bearing account, to be known as the "Healthy Lifestyles Fund". The special revenue account shall consist of all appropriations made by the Legislature, income from the investment of moneys held in the special revenue account and all other sums available for deposit to the special revenue account from any source, public or private. No expenditures for purposes of this section are authorized from collections except in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twelve of this code and upon fulfillment of the provisions set forth in article two, chapter eleven-b of this code. Any balance remaining in the special revenue account at the end of any state fiscal year does not revert to the General Revenue Fund but remains in the special revenue account and shall be used solely in a manner consistent with this article. No expenses incurred under this section shall be a charge against the General Funds of the state.