HEALTH

Virginia’s COVID-19 decline is officially over

BY: - July 21, 2021

After six months of sharp decline, COVID-19 cases in Virginia are again on the rise, spurred by the spread of more infectious variants and a plateau in new vaccinations. With just over 53 percent of the population fully vaccinated (and more than 64 percent of adults), the case burden is still far below states like […]

Canadian and western wildfires bring hazardous smoke to Virginia

BY: - July 21, 2021

Massive wildfires near the Ontario-Minnesota border as well as blazes farther west in Canada and the United States are bringing smoke throughout Virginia, causing state officials to issue a health alert Wednesday morning due to high levels of particulate matter.  “It’s basically all over the state at this point,” said Virginia Department of Environmental Quality […]

New coalition calls for statewide board to control prescription drug costs

BY: - July 20, 2021

A new coalition is calling on Virginia legislators to create an oversight board aimed at lowering the cost of pharmaceuticals across the commonwealth. “We have formed because the problem is clear and it is grave,” said Addison Hunter, a spokesperson for Freedom Virginia, one of several advocacy groups — including Doctors for America and Virginia […]

Amid a crisis at state mental hospitals, calls for private providers to step up

BY: - July 20, 2021

As Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals struggle to navigate a long-brewing crisis in staffing and admissions, lawmakers and advocates are asking private hospitals to relieve more of the burden. For years, officials have warned that Virginia’s beleaguered psychiatric facilities were on the verge of collapse. But the system reached a tipping point earlier this month when […]

COMMENTARY

Mentally ill patients, and their families, deserve better from Virginia government

BY: - July 19, 2021

By Margaret Rood The Mercury’s  story on mental health hospitalizations in Virginia evokes some worrisome questions concerning the direction our legislature intends to pursue in addressing the commonwealth’s mental health crisis. Sen. George Barker, D-Fairfax, said “Right now, I think the sense is we don’t want to build more beds if that’s not what we […]

First surprise medical bills head to arbitration under Virginia’s new balance-billing ban

BY: - July 16, 2021

Doctors and hospitals are up 2-1 over insurance companies as the first three disputes resolved under the state’s ban on balance billing emerge from arbitration, according to a report released this month by state regulators. The new approach, which went into effect Jan. 1, removes patients from fights between providers and insurers over unexpected medical […]

More than half of Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals are closing to new admissions

BY: - July 9, 2021

More than half of Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals are immediately closing to new admissions, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services announced Friday. The abrupt order from DBHDS Commissioner Alison Land comes amid a workforce crisis that’s resulted in a “dangerous environment where staff and patients are at increasing risk for physical harm,” she […]

COMMENTARY

More smiles. More health. More life.

BY: - July 8, 2021

Kyle Willis is the poster man for the importance of maintaining healthy teeth. Not “poster child.” The 24-year-old’s story is one sadly shared by too many low-income adults across the country, though not always with the tragic outcome Willis endured. It’s astounding what he experienced could happen in the United States.  That’s why a new […]

Boosted by expansion, Medicaid enrollment soared to more than half a million Virginians during the pandemic

BY: - July 6, 2021

For years, Debbie Oswalt collected stories of Virginians who died before they could access the right medical care.  As executive director of the Virginia Health Care Foundation, which funds the state’s network of free clinics and community health centers, she knew firsthand how limited access could be for patients without insurance. One of her worst […]

Virginia will expand mental health coverage under Medicaid

BY: - July 2, 2021

For years, mental health treatment for many Virginians has followed a predictable pattern, said Anna Mendez, executive director of the Charlottesville-based nonprofit Partner for Mental Health.  “For community providers like us, a family member will call and say their loved one is in crisis,” Mendez said. “And we can tell that they’re in distress, but […]

COMMENTARY

Home care workers allow me to keep a roof over my head. They deserve a better deal.

BY: - June 29, 2021

By Kimberly Crawley I’m a single mom. My son Isaac spent 11 of his first 13 months in a hospital ICU. By his first birthday, he had undergone more than a dozen surgeries that aimed to give him a functioning esophagus. At just 14 months old, he had reached his $2 million lifetime max in health benefits. […]

Amid a push to end mental health hospitalizations, Virginia is still funding more beds

BY: - June 28, 2021

“Broken” is the only word Sheriff Darrell Warren can find to describe Virginia’s mental health system. A 30-year veteran of the Gloucester Sheriff’s Office, he’s part of a growing contingent — law enforcement officials who have turned to state legislators, or the pages of their local newspapers, to share their alarm over a continuing shortage […]