Lawmakers poised to tackle medical balance billing this session, but question of payment still looms

BY: - January 11, 2019

Earlier this year, lawmakers warned representatives from Virginia’s hospitals and health plans that if they didn’t find a solution to balance billing, the General Assembly would. And with a handful of bills filed, legislators appear eager to tackle the problem head-on this session. Balance billing occurs when an out-of-network provider bills a patient for whatever […]

Va. senators push legislation to secure miners’ benefits

BY: - January 8, 2019

WASHINGTON — Virginia Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are trying to ensure pensions and health care benefits for coal miners at risk of losing them. The senators last week introduced the American Miners Act of 2019 along with several of their Democratic colleagues. Their legislation aims to shore up a 1974 United Mine […]

The story behind the certificate of need: What it is, why it exists, and why it has been a thorn in Virginia’s side for decades

BY: - January 8, 2019

Some lawmakers already sported wry smiles as Sarah Stanton, a staff member with the Division of Legislative Services, walked to a lectern in late November to deliver a presentation on Virginia’s Certificate of Public Need, or COPN, program. “Everybody’s favorite topic,” she said sarcastically, and both the crowd behind her and lawmakers on the Joint […]

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Herring and 16 other AGs appeal Texas Affordable Care Act ruling

BY: - January 3, 2019

Seventeen attorneys general, including Virginia’s Mark Herring, have filed a notice of appeal in an effort to reverse a Texas judge’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. The filing moves the case into the conservative-leaning Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, just as the newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives plans a vote next week […]

A LOOK BACK: After years of political battling, Virginia expands Medicaid

BY: - December 27, 2018

The Virginia Mercury launched in July to provide a sustained focus on statewide issues that have fallen through the cracks as traditional news outlets shrink. Here’s the second in a holiday-week series looking back on how we’ve spent our time since then. For years, one of the most vehemently debated topics in Virginia has been […]

After federal judge’s ruling against Affordable Care Act, Virginia plows forward with Medicaid expansion enrollment

BY: - December 20, 2018

More than 182,000 people have signed up for Medicaid since the eligibility rules changed under expansion on Nov. 1, and the state has high hopes that number will continue to rise — even after a federal judge in Texas issued a ruling declaring every part of the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion, unconstitutional. The […]

State health department wants extension of needle-exchange law

BY: - December 17, 2018

In its first report to the General Assembly on needle exchanges in Virginia, the state’s Department of Health is hoping lawmakers will give them more time to get going. Needle exchanges — also known as comprehensive harm reduction or syringe services programs — have only been legal in Virginia for about 18 months, and in […]

Virginia Mercury

After fraudulent sleep study clinic operation, Sterling woman sentenced to seven years

BY: - December 10, 2018

Federal investigators say a Sterling woman ran a massive health care fraud operation in which she defrauded Medicare, Tricare, private insurance and the IRS out of more than $10 million by billing for medically unnecessary sleep studies. Young Yi, 44, was sentenced to seven years in prison for the conspiracy, according to a U.S. Department […]

Lawmakers’ recommendations aimed at temporary detention order crisis, mental health in jails

BY: - December 5, 2018

A group of lawmakers made a series of recommendations Tuesday aimed at tackling a variety of problems within Virginia’s mental health system, which is marred by overcrowded hospitals and jails full of people with serious mental illness. Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, chairman of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the […]

‘You have no control:’ As admissions rise, overcrowding at state psychiatric hospitals threatens care and safety

BY: - December 3, 2018

In her Ashland home, which is overflowing with knickknacks and pictures of horses and dogs, Traci Jones stretches her fingers out before her and shrugs. She doesn’t know exactly how many temporary-detention orders she’s received, she says. But she knows it’s more than she can count on both hands. For a little more than 10 […]

Virginia hasn’t seen much improvement in its rate of uninsured children. Could Medicaid expansion help?

BY: - November 30, 2018

For the first time in a decade, the number of children without health insurance rose nationally in 2017, a new report shows. And while Virginia’s slight increase isn’t statistically significant, its rate is still larger than most states that have already expanded Medicaid, suggesting Virginia could see an improvement in 2019 after expansion. Between 2016 […]

Woodbridge physician pleads guilty to operating opioid pill mill

BY: - November 29, 2018

After his nurse practitioner and co-conspirator pleaded guilty in September, a former physician in Woodbridge pleaded guilty Wednesday to operating a pill mill that illegally distributed more than 600,000 oxycodone pills. Shriharsh Laxman Pole, 65, voluntarily surrendered his medical license twice — in 2009 and 2013 — then turned around and founded Excel Medical Clinic, […]