Holding the Line on Healthcare Costs

 

I took a hard vote today. During session, I took a vote against a bill that would mandate the dispensing of a 12 month supply of birth control. Let me explain why.

One of the main reasons I came to serve in the General Assembly was because so many of my patients told me their health care costs were overwhelming. The Affordable Care Act forced changes to health care plans across the country. Many of my patients lost health care coverage, or had plans with higher premiums and higher deductibles. Patients were telling me they could not afford to go see their doctor because the first $1000 to $5000 of care they received came out of their own pocket before insurance kicked in.

One of the few ways in which the Virginia state legislature can influence health care costs is by imposing mandated benefits that insurance companies must provide. In a 2009 report linked here, Virginia was one of the top four states for mandated benefits, with 60 total mandates. According to the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, even though most mandates only increase the cost of a policy by less than 1%, the accumulated impact of 40 of these mandates will price many people out of the market. We need to have a process by which we determine the value of mandating benefits to insurance companies. Ultimately, this means we have to take a hard look at these issues and consciously commit to not increasing costs.

Today on the Senate floor, I did not speak against being able to obtain a 12 month supply of birth control. I spoke against us continuing to pass legislation without understanding the unintended consequences. This affects every individual with health insurance, and everyone who is trying to get it. Birth control is already free as mandated by the federal government. It is dispensed three months at a time and can be delivered directly to your home so you never have to go to the pharmacy.

I knew that this bill was going to pass, and that I would be in the minority of people who would vote against it. I understand there are a lot of people upset that I voted against it. That’s okay because I am here to take the hard votes. And I’m going to continue to do everything I can to reduce the cost of health care and health insurance in Virginia.

Siobhan