Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 4

With just one more full week left until Crossover we are busier than ever.  Our floor sessions are getting longer, as most committees have moved many of their bills through their dockets.

This week I had a very unique opportunity in the House. On Wednesday, I had the honor and privilege to deliver the opening prayer to the Virginia House of Delegates.  It could be a once in a lifetime experience, and I was very grateful and humbled to be asked.  If you’re interested, you can see the video of the opening prayer online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JwppAuziek.

Republicans Request JLARC Audit of Medicaid

As I have mentioned in previous emails, Medicaid has been one of the pressing issues over the last two Sessions. We have received numerous inquiries on the status of Medicaid expansion, as well as requests for my position. At this time I cannot support Medicaid Expansion, and I do not believe that a decision will be made this Session.

Let me first be clear about what expansion would mean for Virginia.  Medicaid could be expanded to cover an additional 400,000 new recipients in the Commonwealth.  The Federal Government has promised to cover 100% of expansion costs for the first 3 years, and 90% of costs after that.

Just last year, the General Assembly established the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to review, recommend and approve innovation and reform proposals affecting Virginia’s Medicaid system. This Commission provided for legislative oversight in the process.

Over the last year, MIRC has held eight public meetings and worked to compile information on the current program’s operations and costs. In the most recent MIRC meeting, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel reported 30% of all healthcare spending in Virginia is waste. Wasteful spending includes money spent on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, inefficient delivery services, and fraud.

In order to compliment the work of MIRC, Republicans have recently introduced the text of a resolution that would direct the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee (JLARC) to complete a comprehensive financial and operational audit of Virginia’s Medicaid program.  JLARC was established to evaluate the operations and performance of state agencies and programs. Our hope is that a JLARC audit will provide insight on several intricacies of the program, including the “Fee for service” system that covers our high volume/high-cost Medicaid services and the long-term care program for the elderly and disabled. 

Virginia citizens deserve a more efficient, effective, and easily accessible Medicaid system. This audit would review a number of different aspects of Medicaid and provide members of both MIRC and the General Assembly a deeper understanding of the challenges we face with Medicaid reform.  It will also provide us with a better grasp on how we can improve the system.

I truly believe that it is important that we improve Medicaid before we even consider expansion.  Therefore it is imperative that we not rush the legislative process, nor put an arbitrary date on that decision. 

My Legislation

This week I had two of my own bills pass in the General Assembly.

House Bill 322 was brought to me by the Monterey Town Council.  The Town Council passed a resolution requesting that legislation be filed in the General Assembly to reduce the number of members on their town council.  This legislation would reduce the number of Town Council members from 7 to 4, effective in May of 2014.  It passed in the House on a vote of 99-0.

House Bill 1150 was brought to me by a local distillery in Nelson County.  Currently, Virginia law only allows a distillery to sell on site if they use a copper pot still.  This law would allow them to use a copper or stainless steel pot still.  If passed, this will broaden the ability of small farm and craft distilleries to have a substantial impact on the local and state economy. I am pleased that the bill passed in the House on a vote of 99-0.

Both of these bills will now move on to the State Senate for further consideration.   

Visitors

I failed to mention last week that Rachel Bavister and Alice Frick dropped by for a few minutes on Monday, January 27. 

Despite the cold and snowy weather, this week we had a number of visitors from home drop in to say hello.

Representing our local libraries Ruth Arnold (Staunton), Zahir Mahmoud (Waynesboro) and Diantha McCauley (Augusta) stopped by to speak to us about legislative and budgetary issues affecting Virginia’s public libraries.  Peter Agelasto from Nelson County stopped by representing the Virginia Conservation Network.

We were also able to spend time with representatives from Staunton, Augusta, and Waynesboro School Boards, as well as representatives from the Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce. 

We were able to visit with representatives from local breweries, including Steve and Heidi Crandall from Devils Backbone, and Peter Ramsey and representatives from Blue Mountain Brewery.

Gayl Brunk as well as staff and supporters from Valley Associates for Independent Living (VAIL) braved the weather to visit us, as well as Mike Aulger, Myron Rummel, and representatives from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative. 

Last but not least, this morning I had the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Bob Gunther. 

It is always great to see friendly faces from home. If you will be in the Richmond area over the next few weeks, we welcome you to drop by for a visit.

Though appointments are not required, we strongly encourage them.  To make an appointment call Savanna at 804-698-1020.

Contact Us


While we are in Session, we will be operating out of our Richmond Office. To contact us in Richmond, please call 804-698-1020.  You can also reach us by email at DelDBell@house.virginia.gov.  If you would like to send written correspondence, you can mail it to Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23218.  You can also fax it to 804-698-6720.

 

While we do our best to respond to every email and voicemail as quickly as possible, during Session we get sometimes hundreds of calls and emails each day. Therefore, it can often take some time to filter through everything. We appreciate your patience and understanding, and assure you that we will work to get back to you as promptly as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you over the next few weeks!

As always, I thank you for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.

Do you like this post?

Be the first to comment