I ask lawmakers to consider the facts when deciding the issue of Medicaid Expansion.
Opponents claim that the Virginia Medicaid program is fraught with abuse. Yet, according to a 2011 JLARC Report “Mitigating the Risk of Improper Payments in the Virginia Medicaid Program,” recipient and provider fraud totals 0.3%, (or roughly $6M) not the $38B that some have tossed about. In fact, Virginia has one of the best -managed Medicaid programs in the country.
Another argument is “the Federal government will not live up to its financial commitment.” There is no basis for this conclusion. The Medicaid program has been in existence since 1965, nearly 50 years, and during this entire time the Federal government has never reduced its financial commitment to the States.
Virginia has never been shy about accepting Federal money. In fact, the biennium budget currently being considered includes $20B in federal dollars for all sorts of programs out of a $96B budget!
The Senate’s bi-partisan “Marketplace Virginia” addresses every reasonable concern. In Marketplace Virginia, participants would share costs up to 5% of their household income, additional safeguards are in place to prevent fraud and abuse, budgetary savings would be set aside to pay the State’s share of Medicaid in the future; and the program automatically ends if the Federal government fails to meet its funding obligations.
Over 400,000 working Virginians are uninsured. The cost of providing care in the emergency rooms is causing everyone’s insurance premiums to skyrocket and local hospitals are close to financial disaster. The Federal government is willing to pay nearly the full cost of insuring many of these low-income individuals for years to come. Lawmakers have the power to save jobs, boost the economy and help manage the cost of care for everyone. Now is the time to act!
State Senator (D)
31st District (parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun
Mental Health and the Expansion of Medicaid
By Senator Barbara Favola
There is a growing consensus forming in the General Assembly that now is the time to improve the safety net for mental health services. Both the House and Senate budgets increase funding for these services up to $20 million above the proposed budget of $36 million that Governor McDonnell presented in December.
What Virginians may not know is that under Marketplace Virginia in the Senate budget, the State would gain approximately $200M a year for mental health services and 77,000 uninsured Virginians needing these services would benefit from this plan.
These dollars would support medication, therapy, community based treatment programs and inpatient hospitalization that individuals could access when the first signs of mental illness show themselves. In a recent study conducted by the Department of Medical Assistance Services, we learned that 40% of the voluntary admissions to psychiatric hospitals could have been avoided if early treatment and community based services had been available; 25% of involuntary admissions could have been avoided.
A recent report from the organization, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, entitled “Cut Violence, Cut Prison Costs” noted that “If low-income families receive medical insurance, they are more likely to be routinely screened and treated for their health problems such as substance abuse, depression or excessive aggression. Health care professionals tell us that early treatment can prevent more serious escalation of behaviors that can be harmful to the individual, to family members and to the general public.
Senator Deeds’ bill (SB 260) and other bills before the General Assembly take important steps to improve the crisis safety net. I applaud those steps but I believe that treating mental illness must begin at a much earlier stage and this will only happen if more people have insurance to pay for these services. In fact, Margaret Nimmo Crowe, Executive Director of Voices for Virginia’s Children, notes: “There is ‘no way’ Virginia can successfully reform its mental-health-care system without addressing the uninsured.”
This is why it is so critical that Virginia seize the opportunity to leverage Federal dollars by adopting Marketplace Virginia.
The House budget conferees should not hold Virginians hostage in an ideological lock. Marketplace Virginia has the potential to make us all healthier and safer while the Federal government absorbs a significant amount of the cost.
Now is the time to act.
Barbara Favola (D-31) is a state senator representing parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun Counties.
I was proud to stand with Virginia Alliance Against Mass Incarceration & Faith Leaders Moving Forward at a rally this morning showing our support for Medicaid expansion in Virginia. Not only does expanding Marketplace Virginia help thousands of individuals within the commonwealth, it is also a wise investment for the economic health of Virginia. Marketplace Virginia passed the Senate with bipartisan support on Thursday,
Not only does expanding Medicaid (Marketplace Virginia) help thousands of low-income individuals, it is also a wise investment in the physical and economic health of Virginia’s families and our state’s future. Marketplace Virginia, which passed the Senate yesterday will cover individuals not currently eligible for Medicaid whose incomes are up to 138% of the poverty line. Under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government will cover 100 percent of the costs to expand coverage through 2016, after that Virginia will pay no more than 10%. The state’s economy would enjoy $23 billion over the next 10 years, and approximately 30,000 jobs would be created. Currently, many families and individuals without health insurance are forced to rely on emergency rooms, which are the most expensive treatment centers; you and I pay for this care through higher premiums. Now is the time to move forward. I spoke in favor of Marketplace Virginia on the floor of the Senate and will work with the hospitals, business leaders and other to persuade House Republicans to do the right thing. Thanks for your support in this effort.
The Women's Reproductive Health Caucus, which Senator Favola chairs, held a press conference this morning which outlined their efforts to roll back extreme legislation backed by Republicans to obstruct women's access to health care.
Senator Favola outlined the consequences of "Marketplace Virginia," the proposed program to provide health care options for the Virginians who cannot afford health care and don't qualify for Medicaid.
"Marketplace Virginia is an imperfect compromise, but our most important goal is to close the coverage gap and ensure that up to 400,000 Virginians gain access to quality, affordable healthcare" said Senator Favola of the program.
We must continue to fight for women's rights and stop this war on women that the GOP-controlled house of Delegates has been waging.
WRIC 8 did an incredible job covering our press conference of SB510 yesterday. Many supporters were in attendance and it's great to get the word out that we need sensible gun laws in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The fight is far from over!
|General Assembly Crossover Update|
It is now crossover. That means all bills passed by the Senate go over to the House of Delegates and House bills come over to the Senate. Some of the House bills are pretty draconian so it is very helpful to have enough Democratic Senate votes to defeat the really bad stuff.
In fact, the commonly held view around the Capitol is “Thank God for the Virginia Senate.” This statement is particularly true if you care about Medicaid Expansion. I consider Medicaid Expansion to be the top priority of the session and will work with moderate Republicans to ensure that Virginia participates in this important program.
I am proud to say that my bills to improve services in the Juvenile Justice system, including funding for mental health assessments, have been passed and included in the budget. Both Governor McDonnell and Governor McAuliffe supported my proposal to extend subsidies for foster youth and adopted youth until the age of 21. The expansion of this safety net has been hailed by child advocates across the Commonwealth as a much needed reform to help kids secure the education and life skills necessary to succeed as adults.
By working with my colleague, Senator Deeds, and others on the Education & Health Committee, I was able to pass a bill that requires State facilities to make a psychiatric bed available if a temporary detention order must be issued and no local bed can be secured. This will be a big help in providing necessary services to those in crisis situations. We expect the House to pass this bill.
Additionally, I worked with Delegate Simon on a bill to prevent domestic violence by taking guns away (for a five year period) from those convicted of misdemeanor stalking, sexual battery or battery of a family or household member. This bill passed the Senate with bi-partisan support but is likely to die in the House.
I appreciate your continued interest and support as I work to represent the constituents of the 31st Senate District. Please visit my website http://www.barbarafavola.org/
Senator Favola's remarks on the Senate Floor Regarding SB617-- Repealing Mandatory Ultrasound for Abortions
VIRGINIA SENATE VOTES TO REPEAL MANDATORY ULTRASOUNDS
Bill to end mandatory ultrasound passes
RICHMOND, VA— This afternoon, the Virginia Senate passed a bill to repeal the mandatory ultrasound requirement that Republicans passed in 2012. The vote was 20-20 allowing Lieutenant Governor Northam to cast the deciding vote.
SB 617, patroned by Senator Mamie Locke (D – Hampton), would repeal the ultrasound mandate. Under the ultrasound law, women seeking an abortion must submit to a medically unnecessary abdominal ultrasound — regardless of their wishes.
“Politicians do not need to be practicing medicine. We need to think about the privacy rights of individuals: of women, men and all of us when it comes to personal medical decisions. Because when one group has their rights threatened, we all have our rights threatened. I'm glad my colleagues agreed and voted to protect women's rights,” said Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington)
As a strong advocate of women’s health, Senator Favola feels women should be able to make decisions about their own health care without interference from politicians. “A decision to have an abortion is a deeply personal decision and one that should be made by a woman, in consultation with her doctor, her faith leader and her family, not the state. Senator Favola chairs the Senate Reproductive Health Caucus. SB617 now heads to the House of Delegates for further consideration.
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