Dear VCHA Members,
Midnight on Tuesday, February 13, in the Virginia General Assembly marked a critical deadline. By then, all of the legislation passed by the House of Delegates moves to the state Senate, and all of the Senate’s legislation moves to the House. This is what is known as legislative “crossover.” This midway point in the session offers a great opportunity to review where things stand and consider taking action.
Healthcare has been one of the biggest issues this session – and in particular, the question of whether Virginia should expand its Medicaid program. It’s the issue the public and lawmakers are talking about. We’ve shared those conversations with you on our Facebook page in an effort to keep you informed and to encourage productive dialogue.
Several ideas have been offered by Republicans and Democrats that take a different approach to helping some, or all, of the estimated 400,000 uninsured Virginians in the coverage gap gain health coverage. As these discussions continue, the Alliance believes it is critical that the views of Virginians like you who care about access to quality affordable care are heard by elected officials considering these important questions.
A series of recent polling from Public Opinion Strategies, the University of Mary Washington, and Christopher Newport University, each show that the overwhelming majority of Virginians favor expanding Medicaid. As we enter the second half of the session, two questions loom large: Will the legislature ultimately choose to increase coverage access? And if so, what details will the final package include? Those details could determine how many more low-income, working, uninsured Virginians get coverage.
Another issue connected to healthcare access is Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need (COPN) program that protects your ability to get care where you live. Again this year, legislative changes are being suggested to COPN. Having represented a rural, community hospital in Augusta County in the General Assembly, I know how important rural healthcare is. Rural healthcare policy directly affected my family’s health as well as that of our company’s employees and their families. The VCHA hopes you will take the time to study the issue and determine the best healthcare policies for all of Virginia’s different regions.
When I was serving in the General Assembly, I would often spend time reviewing bills and hearing from constituents during crossover to really dig more deeply into the potential impacts of the policy questions being considered in the General Assembly. I can tell you from experience that hearing thoughts and ideas from Virginia citizens had a profound impact on my votes.
This week we may call on you to contact your legislators by phone, email, or through Facebook to make your opinion known on these crucial healthcare issues. At this critical juncture, you should know that your voice is important and powerful and I hope you’ll use it.
You can learn more on our Facebook page. After you get caught up, please encourage your friends and family to like our page too. The more voices there are, the more effective we can be at improving our healthcare system for Virginians.
Virginia Consumer Healthcare Alliance