HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!! We hope that you had a joyous and busy holiday season
The future of health care reform in Virginia still looks confusing. The governor has decided that he will NOT be pushing to set up a Health Benefits Exchange or other steps forward on health care reform. Delegate McClellan and Senator McEachin will be introducing legislation drafted by VMSA allies that contains pretty much everything we want. Meanwhile, the health care industry will also be getting a bill introduced that contains pretty much everything they want. All of this could lead to an ugly legislative fight about whether the state should do anything and, if yes, what they should do. The General Assembly starts January 11.
One topic that the General Assembly will be debating is the creation of a Health Benefits Exchange. A Health Benefit Exchange (HBE) is a co-op or buyers club that will allow small businesses from all over the state to join one big pool to purchase health insurance. The HBE should have an easy to use website where small businesses can compare and buy insurance plans. The HBE will be voluntary and will start operating in January, 2014. The Commonwealth Institute has a good article on the HBE at http://
This year’s legislature will be especially confusing because the state senate has 20 republicans and 20 democrats. The two sides seem to be unable to share power over things like committee appointments. If they are unable to share power the legislature may be even more dysfunctional than usual.
Groups like Virginia Organizing and the Virginia Civic Engagement Table are planning a much more confrontational attitude towards the legislature this year. The groups are planning to start the session with a series of rallies calling on the legislature both to do its job and to provide the basic services that citizens of Virginia need.
For information about the General Assembly, or to find out who your legislators are, go to http://legis.virginia.gov/
A recent study found that small businesses pay 18% more than large businesses for health insurance coverage. The large pooling and buying power that the Health Benefit Exchange will provide can help change this equation. See http://content.healthaffairs.
In a 2009 study, Families USA, looked at how medical care for the uninsured is provided. The study noted that the uninsured receive over $100 billion in medical care each year. The study found that while the uninsured and charities help, about 1/3 of this bill is passed on to those with insurance. The study found that insured families pay about $1000 more each year to cover the uninsured. The study can be found at www.familiesusa.org/resources/
Part of the national debate about taxes has the national chamber of Commerce arguing that a surtax on millionaires would hurt small business. Recently, National Public Radio spent two weeks looking for a “small business millionaire”. NPR asked congressional staffers and businesses groups for contacts but they could find no small business owner who was a millionaire. You can find the story at http://www.npr.org/blogs/
According to the Better Choices Coalition, between the start of the recession and FY2012, state funding for local fire fighters, police, corrections officers, and sheriff’s departments has been cut 35 percent. See http://betterchoicesva.org/ for more details.
These updates are a service of the Virginia Main Street Alliance, a project of Virginia Organizing. We repeat ourselves often because many people miss emails like this. . Past updates as well as some background materials are available at: http://www.virginia-