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Healthcare Reform Legislation Update

Please enjoy this news update from your friends at VQH . . .


January 2017 Newsletter

Healthcare Reform Legislation Update

We are cautiously optimistic that healthcare reform is proceeding in Washington and in Virginia.  In recent weeks we’ve attended meetings of the “Repeal and Reform Coalition” on Capitol Hill, and co-signed a letter from coalition members to Congress urging quick passage of “S.Con.Res.3”  (the budget resolution) to begin repealing Obamacare through the process known as reconciliation.  That measure was adopted on 13 January; it gives four money committees in Congress until 27 January to propose federal spending cuts that will result in repealing many of the taxes and mandates created under the ACA.

Our President, Donald Trump has taken office, and by the deadline mentioned above our Secretary of Health and Human Services will be Dr. Tom Price, whose healthcare reform bills VQH has supported since 2014.  It’s likely that the actual details of reconciliation will be decided during the House Member Retreat in early February. Then the bill will go through the mark-up process, from the Budget Committee to the Rules Committee, then to the House floor for a vote.  Then on to the Senate. If all goes smoothly, we could have a passage of repeal by the President’s Weekend recess in mid-February.  One step at a time…

We wouldn’t be surprised, though, if that timeline is accelerated under President Trump.  He has said he wants a replacement plan very quickly, even as quickly as “within a week.”  Some are concerned over Trump’s statements that “everyone is going to have insurance… and the government will pay for it.”  Dr. Price was careful to say that everyone will have access to health insurance, i.e. most individuals will be able to choose the insurance plan they want and find that it’s affordable. The “government paying for it” could be by way of tax credits (to encourage people to buy health insurance and/or have Health Savings Accounts), and there will most likely be public assistance for the truly needy, by way of Medicaid block grants to states.

There is no shortage of good ideas for positive healthcare reform, but as they say, “the devil’s in the details” (remember “you have to pass the bill to see what’s in it”..?)  Recently VQH sent a letter to Dr. Price, to Congresswoman Diane Black, the Interim Chair of the House Budget Committee, and to Majority Whip Steve Scalise, asking that the House adhere to basic conservative values and free enterprise principles in developing Obamacare replacement bills. The letter is on our website.

Meanwhile, six VQH members traveled to Richmond on 16 January for “Lobby Day” at the General Assembly.  We met one-on-one with several state senators and delegates who were available when we dropped in, and legislative assistants or other staffers when the principals weren’t available.  We presented our message of “Reform Medicaid!” and discussed our position on new healthcare bills that promote free enterprise concepts, and other bills that create patient-centered healthcare reforms.  Check our website for the Lobby Day handouts we delivered to 100 offices in the General Assembly.   

One important issue to watch in Virginia’s General Assembly this session is Certificate of Public Need (COPN) repeal.  COPN requirements keep medical costs high and impede access to medical facilities particularly in underserved areas of Virginia. Repealing COPN would immediately boost competition, create much-needed jobs in Virginia, and drive down costs for patients.  We like House Bill 2337.

Our friends at the Virginia Medicaid Reform Team invited us to co-sign a letter to state legislators who have held the line against Medicaid expansion since 2009. That effort was a win for Virginia.  Medicaid enrollment growth has been the largest driver of state spending in Virginia, accounting now for 24% of General Fund revenues. It would be wrong to expand such a program that is costly, flawed, inefficient, and in dire need of reform. We enthusiastically signed the letter, and VMRT delivered it to General Assembly members on Lobby Day.

Have you seen the most excellent VQH Twitter feed? Check it out at @VaQualHC !  A huge shout-out goes to Susan Lider for being our voice on Twitter.  Speaking of social media, we could use help maintaining our Facebook page, which has been dormant for a while.  Let me know if you are interested in taking that on.  Messaging is critically important right now, to counter the lies and spin coming from the other side.  Our initial goal on Facebook is to post links to a select number of factual articles and videos a couple times a week; the material flows into our Inbox daily.  E-mail me if you’d be willing to energize our Facebook page at least for a few months.

Finally, our stalwart action team could use a few more people to boost our communications effort (writing letters, writing commentary for Fairfax Free Citizen, writing letters to the editor, etc.)  We also want to bring in new members from the healthcare provider sector.  From time to time we need to consult a physician on a policy matter. And we need ideas and support for an outreach program such as a town hall or college campus event or information forum.  If you can help, please just let us know.  

Virginians for Quality Healthcare, an all-volunteer organization, now has the ability to accept donations. This will enable us to expand our advocacy and outreach to advance the cause of healthcare freedom for the benefit of all Virginians. Also, we welcome new members for our action team. You can join the effort in your area by sending an email to info@virginiansforqualityhealt