CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - UPDATE: 11/6/19 11:55 A.M.
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West Virginia has awarded a contract to manage the health care for thousands of foster children.
Aetna Better Health of West Virginia has been awarded the $200 million contract, the state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a news release,
The number of children in the state's foster-care system has swelled to nearly 7,000 — an increase of more than 60 percent from 2015 — as the state grapples with an ongoing opioid addiction epidemic.
Earlier this year, lawmakers passed a bill requiring the DHHR to transfer children in foster care to a managed-care organization after the U.S. Justice Department threatened to sue the state over possible violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act within the foster-care system.
'ORIGINAL STORY: 10/1/19
A federal class-action lawsuit alleges the overwhelmed foster-care system in opioid-ravaged West Virginia has failed to protect children.
The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court by nonprofit advocacy groups and a law firm on behalf of a dozen children against Gov. Jim Justice, the state Department of Health and Human Resources and other state officials.
The 105-page complaint describes stories of alleged neglect and harm done to foster children while under the DHHR's care. Many were in inadequate and dangerous placements, left without necessary services or forced to languish in foster care for years.
The DHHR's foster-care ranks have swelled to about 6,900 children as the state grapples with the opioid addiction epidemic.
The DHHR and governor's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.