An award-winning reporter, Kate grew up in Northern Virginia before moving to the Midwest, earning her degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She spent a year covering gun violence and public health for The Trace in Boston before joining The Frederick News-Post in Frederick County, Md. While at the News-Post, she won first place in feature writing and breaking news from the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, and Best in Show for her coverage of the local opioid epidemic. Before joining the Mercury in 2020, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md.
Over the objections of religious groups, Virginia is poised to mandate nondiscriminatory care for transgender patients
By: Kate Masters - March 4, 2020
In a year when the General Assembly passed sweeping LGBTQ-friendly legislation, it’s a relatively low-profile health bill that has opponents questioning whether the state is going too far in its protections for transgender Virginians. The Senate Commerce and Labor committee voted 12-2 on Monday to report a bill from Del. Danica Roem, D-Manassas, that would […]
House and Senate lawmakers are deadlocked over expanding authority for pharmacists
By: Kate Masters - March 3, 2020
Two bills in the Virginia General Assembly are aimed at giving pharmacists greater authority to prescribe and administer certain medications But House and Senate lawmakers can't agree on the best version, all but assuring a closed-door fight for compromise.
Virginia taking precautions but urging calm as coronavirus fears spread
By: Kate Masters - February 28, 2020
Gov. Ralph Northam is “taking every precaution to ensure the safety of Virginians” amidst a global outbreak of novel coronavirus, press secretary Alena Yarmosky wrote in an email on Friday. In reality, that translates to watching and waiting as experts learn more about the disease, recently named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. The Virginia […]
Senate bill would force Virginia to reveal sources of lethal injection drugs
By: Kate Masters - February 27, 2020
A Senate bill aims to re-introduce transparency to Virginia's execution process, declassifying the sources of lethal injection drugs and ensuring that the names of facilities are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.
New bill aims to expand due process rights for students accused of sexual misconduct
By: Kate Masters - February 25, 2020
Proposed legislation in the 2020 General Assembly would require universities to craft policies for expunging transcript notations in cases of sexual misconduct.
General Assembly passes bill relaxing sunscreen restrictions in schools
By: Kate Masters - February 24, 2020
Lawmakers have argued on guns, gambling and gerrymandering over the first few weeks of this year’s legislative session. But there’s at least one area where they all agree: sunscreen. Both chambers of the General Assembly unanimously passed a bill to allow any public elementary or secondary schoolers to carry — and apply — their own […]
Will Virginia get a full Medicaid dental benefit? Advocates say it could be life-altering for poor patients.
By: Kate Masters - February 21, 2020
Only the Senate's budget includes an amendment to provide dental services under the state's Medicaid program. As lawmakers negotiate on a final spending plan, oral health advocates argue that the expanded benefits would save Virginia millions in health care costs.
House lawmakers authorize $40 million start-up loan for state health exchange
By: Kate Masters - February 20, 2020
House legislators finally put a dollar amount on the cost of establishing a state-run health insurance exchange — a cost met with opposition from Republican delegates. In Thursday’s largely party-line vote, lawmakers approved a budget amendment that would authorize up to $40 million in start-up funding for a state-run health exchange. The money would be […]
Virginia inches closer to ‘menstrual equity’ with legislation requiring schools to provide products
By: Kate Masters - February 19, 2020
A bill to provide free pads and tampons to students just passed both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly. If signed by Gov. Ralph Northam, Virginia would become the fifth state to mandate menstrual supplies in schools.
Years in the making, law to ban conversion therapy passes General Assembly
By: Kate Masters - February 18, 2020
After more than five years of efforts, Virginia legislators passed a bill to ban conversion therapy, a dramatic reversal from previous years.
State sees increase in addiction treatment access as lawmakers consider expanding care
By: Kate Masters - February 17, 2020
A state agency is reporting substantial gains in addiction treatment under Virginia’s Medicaid expansion — a report that comes as lawmakers consider several budget proposals to expand the continuum of care for substance use disorders. The state unrolled new addiction treatment services in 2017, when 1,536 state residents died of fatal overdoses. That year, Virginia […]
Virginia is poised to create its own health insurance marketplace. Here’s what you need to know.
By: Kate Masters - February 17, 2020
Virginia is poised to become the 14th state to create its own health insurance exchange via two bills working their way through both chambers of the General Assembly. Filed on behalf of Gov. Ralph Northam, who endorsed new health care initiatives in a column last October, the legislation aims to stabilize the often-volatile health plan […]