News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly

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News and Notes from the Virginia General Assembly

Virginia Business Leaders Release Principles for a Medicaid
Private Option for Virginia

On Monday, February 24th, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, joined by business leaders and Chambers of Commerce from across the Commonwealth, endorsed a private option approach and released a series of principles to address Medicaid in Virginia.  These free-market based principles highlight ten reforms that businesses are urging the General Assembly to consider as they work to address Medicaid expansion in Virginia.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has created uncertainty for the business community.  Insurance premiums for Virginia's businesses have risen 32% faster than the rate of inflation, in part because of the cost shifting due to the uninsured.  Over the next 8 years, Virginia businesses will incur $16.4 billion in ACA-related taxes to pay for federal health care reform.  A private option plan will allow Virginia to take control of $15 billion of its federal tax dollars and put them to work for Virginia businesses, taxpayers and communities.

Speaking about the proposed private option, Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber said, "Virginia should adopt Medicaid reforms and use an approach that would promote value, improve access to preventative services, elevate quality and control health care costs.  While we have always expressed our concerns with the increased taxes and fees being imposed on businesses because of the ACA, this approach will allow Virginia to utilize its tax dollars in a manner that makes the Commonwealth more competitive by reducing health care costs and improving wellness.  We urge the General Assembly to develop an innovative approach that will cover the uninsured while delivering personal responsibility for costs, care coordination, and incentives for healthy behavior.  I am confident that we can solve this issue the Virginia Way."

A healthy workforce is the most important asset for Virginia employers.  The cost of the health care system and the overall health of Virginia's workforce has become an economic competitiveness issue.  Wellness and prevention components of the private option will allow more Virginians to take control and ownership over their healthcare.

Highlights of the free-market based reforms that businesses are urging the General Assembly to consider include:

  • Total privatization of Medicaid expansion in VA;
  • Requirement that the Commonwealth achieve sufficient savings to offset the state's share of contributions for the private option;
  • Requirement that enrollees must be employed or actively seeking employment;
  • Encourage a market-oriented approach for new enrollees to control their use of health care services and maintain healthy behaviors, including cost sharing;
  • Financial incentives to encourage healthy behaviors, including health savings accounts;
  • Require an audit of the Medicaid program and a renewal of the private option plan every 4 years;
  • Language that the private option plan would terminate if the federal government fails to meet their financial obligations under the ACA;
  • Support wellness and preventative services;
  • Require annual performance reviews;
  • Expand fraud and abuse prevention measures to control costs.

For more information please visit www.privateoption forVa.com

Virginia Senate and House of Delegates budgets set up for long fight over $96 Billion State Budget

Highlights of the Plans

HEALTH CARE

House:  Includes nearly $81 million in state and federal funds to restore inflation adjustments for Medicaid payments to hospitals, and $6 million in additional funds for free clinics and community health centers.  Contains no provisions for Medicaid expansion.

Senate:  Directs the administration to develop a program to allow up to 250,000 uninsured Virginians to purchase private health insurance subsidized by federal dollars designated for Medicaid expansion.  Restores 50 percent of the inflation adjustment for hospitals.

MENTAL HEALTH

House:  Increases funding by more than $48 million over two years for additional beds at state psychiatric hospitals, extending the duration of emergency custody orders, and increasing the number of therapeutic assessment centers from 11 to 28.

Senate:  Increases funding by more than $58 million over two years to fund provisions of the Senate's omnibus mental health bill and to increase the number of therapeutic assessment centers from 11 to 36.

EDUCATION

House:  Increases direct aid for public schools by $584 million over two years; freezes funding for new school takeover board at $150,000.

Senate:  Increases direct aid to public schools by $583 million over two years;  restores $7.2 million to maintain pre-kindergarten spots for divisions that used them this year, and adds $1.4 million in FY 2016 to boost per-pupil funding;  eliminates funding for new school takeover board.

HIGHER EDUCATION

House:  Increases funding for state colleges by $178.3 million over two years, including a 2 percent bonus for faculty and staff in the second year of the budget.  Adds $2 million to McDonnell proposal to fund brain research at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute.  Funds expansion for Virginia Western Community College culinary arts program.

Senate:  Increases funding by about $183 million over two years, including a 1 percent bonus for faculty in FY 2015 and a 1 percent bonus in FY 2016.  Funds expansion for Virginia Western Community College culinary arts program.

COMPENSATION

House:  Funds 2 percent raises for state workers in high-turnover jobs in December 2014 and provides with 2 percent bonuses for other state workers and state-supported local employees in January 2015.  Pay supplements would come from a reserve fund and would not be awarded if the fund is needed to cover revenue reductions.

Senate:  State workers and state-supported local employees would get 1 percent raises in December 2014.  Classified state employees would get 1 percent bonuses in December 2015.

Bon Secours Virginia - released financial numbers this week that illustrated the significant differences in the introduced Senate and House budgets. The Health System indicated that the Senate budget would generate $83.9 million while the House budget would generate $6.1 million over the biennium for Bon Secours of Virginia.

Budget Committee Schedules

The Budget Conference Committee is to complete its work by March 4.  A budget conference report is to be made available by noon on March 6.  A final vote on the budget conference report is scheduled for Saturday, March 8/Sine die..

 

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