Four years ago, a woman was left stranded in her independent living apartment for days. Should the state provide more oversight?

BY: - March 18, 2019

More than four years later, Diane Franklin’s children still choke up when they describe what happened to their mother. It was Dec. 13, 2015, and as she approached Franklin’s apartment in a Charlottesville independent living community, Jackie Carney could already smell urine. Franklin had been trapped there for four days, her broken clavicle preventing her […]

Virginia Mercury

State eases restrictions on opioid addiction treatment

BY: - March 15, 2019

This month, Virginia’s Medicaid program has stopped requiring clinicians to obtain prior authorization before prescribing a medication used to treat opioid addiction in a move to increase access to treatment. The change in policy applies to Suboxone films, a form of buprenorphine and naloxone that is applied to the tongue. The medication is used to […]

Governor signs medical ‘fail first’ reform legislation

BY: - March 14, 2019

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary. Past efforts to reform step therapy in Virginia have been met with resistance from health insurance companies. But this year’s bipartisan push to reform the practice — which can force patients to take medicines […]

Virginia spends hundreds of millions every year on wasteful medical services. A study is looking to put a dent in that figure

BY: - March 14, 2019

In 2017, Virginia clinicians provided $747 million worth of wasteful services to patients, according to the Virginia Center for Health Innovation. Those services ranged from ordering tests and images before low-risk surgeries to unnecessarily screening for vitamin D deficiencies. “It delays care, because people have to have those procedures and wait for the results,” said […]

Asbestos in cosmetics: ‘a tragic case study’

BY: - March 13, 2019

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary. WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-11th, on Tuesday called the presence of asbestos in cosmetic products an important lesson in the value of government regulation. Connolly, a member of the U.S. House Oversight […]

Virginia hospitals among those penalized by Medicare

BY: - March 13, 2019

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary. Medicare reduced payments to 800 hospitals across the country this year, penalizing them for high numbers of injuries and infections among patients, according to Kaiser Health News. Eighteen of those hospitals were in Virginia. […]

Virginia groups urge governor to veto budget language they say will ‘eviscerate’ contraception program

BY: - March 11, 2019

A professional medical organization and the Virginia Board of Health are uneasy about language in the proposed budget that they say will essentially eviscerate a newly launched, two-year pilot program that provides low-income women with contraception. The Virginia section of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, has written a letter to the […]

Warner and Kaine push bill that would give Virginia more Medicaid expansion money

BY: - March 7, 2019

From The Bulletin, the Mercury’s blog, where we post quick hits on the news of the day, odds and ends and commentary. Virginia was late to the Medicaid expansion game, but its Senators in Washington, D.C., are trying to help it make up for lost time — and cash. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, […]

Birthing while black: African-American women face disproportionate risks during pregnancy

BY: - March 5, 2019

In Virginia, black women are three times more likely to suffer a pregnancy-related death than white women, reflecting a national pattern of racial disparities in maternal health outcomes. Each year in America, more than 700 women die during or soon after pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the ratio of maternal deaths per 100,000 live […]

In 2020 Virginians could pay less for tampons and diapers

BY: - March 5, 2019

Virginia won’t be joining other states that have already repealed the so-called “tampon tax” quite yet. But next year, both tampons and diapers could at least be a little cheaper. As a delegate, now-Sen. Jennifer Boysko, D-Loudoun, had tried twice to exempt menstrual products from the state’s sales and use tax, and this year her renewed […]

Despite earlier estimates, opioid fatalities in 2018 now expected to match 2017 deaths

BY: - February 28, 2019

Early reports from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on opioid-related fatalities in 2018 predicted a hopeful outcome for the year: perhaps the number of fatal overdoses would, after years of staggering increases, finally drop. But the most recent report for the third quarter of last year dashes those hopes. According to data released in January, the […]

A storm passes over the Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury - Sept. 11, 2018)

With a mental health system in crisis, lawmakers inch toward stabilization

BY: - February 27, 2019

In its changes to the state budget, the 2019 General Assembly inched closer to stabilizing  Virginia’s struggling mental health system. The effort is in part driven by the ongoing crisis within the state’s psychiatric hospitals, which have seen an unprecedented uptick in admissions, resulting in dangerous overcrowding. On Tuesday, eight of the state’s 10 psychiatric […]