Virginia Mercury

Budget amendments would expand Medicaid access for immigrants

BY: - January 30, 2019

Virginia’s rules on allowing legal immigrants to access Medicaid coverage are twice as onerous as most other states, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Institute. While 44 states require immigrants to legally reside in the country for five years before, in Virginia the individual must have worked 40 quarters in the U.S., or […]

Virginia Mercury

More shopping for health care in Virginia is a step closer to reality

BY: - January 28, 2019

Starting last year, state employees have the option of shopping for their health care services. Through their health plans, they can shop for procedures like X-rays or mammograms, and if they choose a cheaper option, they pocket some of the savings. During the 2018 General Assembly session, the attempt to bring that option to the rest […]

Firefighters again push legislators to add more cancer coverage to workers’ comp system

BY: - January 28, 2019

If a cigarette is unlit, it won’t do you any harm, said Keith Andes, president of the Richmond Association of Firefighters. “But the moment you light that cigarette — or the moment you enter that burning building — all kinds of chemicals are now affecting you,” Andes said. Andes was a firefighter for the Richmond […]

With a rising demand for opioid addiction treatment, how do you weed out the ‘bad actors?’

BY: - January 25, 2019

As Virginia has grappled with the ongoing opioid epidemic, the overwhelming need for treatment has made room for cash clinics and pill mills to squeeze through loopholes that the state is trying to close. Southwest Virginia especially has been seeing cases where doctors require patients to pay cash for both prescription opioid painkillers and drugs […]

‘The devil is in the details:’ Some health groups oppose ‘Tobacco 21’ bills

BY: - January 24, 2019

The sudden swell of support in Virginia’s legislature to raise the minimum age for purchasing tobacco and nicotine vapor products from 18 to 21 achieved lift off Wednesday, with two bills comfortably passing their respective committees in the House and Senate. The legislation received support from not only Altria, the Richmond-based tobacco giant, but also […]

‘It’s been a long journey:’ Longtime push to lift age restrictions on autism coverage is before the General Assembly again

BY: - January 21, 2019

Mark Llobell has put countless miles on his car driving between Virginia Beach and Richmond since his grandson, Mark Llobell III, was diagnosed with autism at age 2. The older Llobell has spent 12 years lobbying lawmakers to expand autism coverage. This year, he’s closer than he’s ever been to making sure people with autism […]

Senate committees hear several mental health bills, with varying outcomes

BY: - January 18, 2019

Two bills aimed at addressing both the state’s psychiatric hospital crisis and mental health in schools passed easily through their respective committees Thursday, while a subcommittee punted on another designed to expand teachers’ ability to recognize mental illness. Virginia’s psychiatric hospitals have been overwhelmed with patients under temporary detention orders, often operating near 100 percent […]

Lawmakers asked insurers and doctors to find a solution on balance billing. They didn’t, and neither have lawmakers.

BY: - January 18, 2019

The struggle over balance billing spilled into lawmakers laps on Thursday, leaving them to tussle over who should have to pay the bills that would otherwise go to patients. And they didn’t get far. Balance billing occurs when patients, usually unknowingly, gets a bill from a provider that they thought was in-network and covered by […]


The Medicaid work requirement: A ‘blunt instrument of a bad idea’

BY: - January 14, 2019

Adrian worked a full-time job and he received health insurance through Medicaid. As it turns out, that’s a pretty common story. For every 15 Americans on Medicaid, nine of them already have a job, according to the latest data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Two people have an illness or disability that keeps them from […]

Medicaid will cost Virginia half a billion dollars more than expected over the next two years. How should the state fix its forecasting?

BY: - January 11, 2019

Virginia’s lawmakers were smacked with an unexpected $462.5 million Medicaid bill in November that they have to pay in the biennial budget, and now they’re debating how to stop it from happening again. The nearly half-billion dollar shortfall is mostly rooted in the state’s overly optimistic estimate of how much money it would save by putting […]

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 […]