Crossover Update: Healthcare

Cost and Coverage
We have to get the cost of health insurance under control. In an effort to address rising costs and be more innovative I have patroned and copatroned a number of reforms that will reduce cost for health insurance.

SB 844 I patroned with Senator Reeves will allow health plans to extend low cost, short term policies from the current limit of 90 days to a year. If the federal government allows thee will also be renewable. This plan would be outside of the ACA and therefore would not have all of the mandated benefits making it less expensive. It will be a good low cost option for some but will not cover preexisting conditions, so not for everyone.

A coverage plan already offered by the ACA marketplace is similar the catastrophic coverage we used to be able to get. It is low cost about $200 a month, has a $7500 deductible, offers 3 prevention visits annually and then covers everything after you pay $7500. So if you had a catastrophic event you are covered. Right now this is only available for 30 year olds and under. In an effort to increase competition in the insurance market and lower healthcare costs, Senator Glen Sturtevant submitted legislation, that I have copatroned, that would seek an innovation waiver from the federal government to expand the availability of catastrophic illness coverage – making it available to anyone buying in the ACA marketplace.

I really believe that these innovative programs directed to lower cost will make a big difference for Virginians.

Medicaid.

To expand or not expand.

Increasing coverage for businesses large and small by allowing organizations like the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and NFIB-Virginia to offer health insurance plans to member companies and their employees. SB 934 will allow the business associations to create low cost plans for members. Small businesses that have been driven to high cost plans in the Affordable Care marketplace will be able to get insurance here. Big businesses already have this buying power but 90% of all business is small. This will help a lot of people change to low cost options.

  • Moving to a new Priority Needs Access Program that provides medicaid to those that most need care and save Virginians money without turning to a massive federal mandate

Another effort to address healthcare costs was proposed by Senator Creigh Deeds and myself. Our legislation authorizes health insurance carriers in the Commonwealth to offer short-term health plans, defined as plans with a duration of 364 days or less. These are extremely lower in cost compared to other plans. Finally, I have partnered with Senator Jeremy McPike to look at how we are caring for stroke patients in Virginia and how we are providing care for acute stroke victims.

CBD/THC-A Oil
This year we have passed legislation to make CBD/THC-A oil be available through a Doctor’s recommendation to a patient for any condition the doctor determines appropriate. This will help so many people with chronic illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis, Crohn’s and even cancer. Providers need access to every possible tool to help decrease patient suffering. As an anti inflammatory it is effective for pain and is an avenue to reduce dependence on highly addictive narcotics, in an effort to address the opioid crisis in Virginia. you can read more about this legislation here in my blog post.

Opioid Crisis
75% of opiate addictions start with a prescription from a medical provider. I sponsored legislation to require a check of the PMP before prescribing more than seven days for acute pain. Virginia already has a Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) that is available to prescribers. Another My bill, that passed the Senate unanimously last week, would bring together an advisory panel of subject matter experts and the Director of the Department of Health Professions to review prescriber patterns.

Mental Health
Right now, physical health (the Virginia Department of Health) and mental health (Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services) are separated and siloed, when often the issues Virginians face fall under both categories – creating barriers and hurdles in care and treatment. To start to address this issue, I am advancing legislation that allows our Community Service Boards to provide mental health services to incarcerated inmates. It’s just a start, but an example of how we can begin to break down the silos separating mental health and physical health at the state level.