~ The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has kept alive a Trump-backed lawsuit to kill the Affordable Care Act; If suit is successful 642,000 Virginians could lose coverage and 3.4 million Virginians with pre-existing conditions would lose their protections ~
RICHMOND (January 3, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring today joined a coalition of 21 attorneys general in filing a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision in Texas v. U.S. The decision held the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the ACA could still stand, including those that protect and provide coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. Because this decision causes uncertainty that may harm the health of millions of Americans, as well as doctors, clinics, patients, and the healthcare market, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues are petitioning the Supreme Court to take up the case and resolve it before the end of the Court’s current term in June.
“This was a politically motivated lawsuit from the beginning that has forced Americans to live in the constant fear that President Trump and his allies will rip away their healthcare, drive up healthcare costs for everyone, and take away all protections for preexisting conditions,” said Attorney General Herring. “Millions of Virginians rely on the Affordable Care Act for quality, affordable healthcare and I will not stop fighting to protect their healthcare from these reckless, dangerous attacks.”
In order to protect Virginians’ healthcare, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues intervened to defend the Affordable Care Act in this lawsuit after President Trump switched sides and joined with Republican state attorneys general in trying to strike down the law. When a district court judge in Texas issued a decision in December 2018 finding the ACA to be unconstitutional, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues immediately appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which has now sent the case back to district court for further proceedings.
If the Trump Administration and its allies are successful in eliminating the ACA with this lawsuit:
• 642,000 Virginians could lose their health coverage, leading to a 96% increase in the uninsured rate in the Commonwealth
• The 3,441,400 Virginians who have pre-existing conditions would lose their protections and insurance companies would be able to deny or drop coverage and charge more for those pre-existing conditions
• 289,081 Virginians in the marketplace would have to pay more for their coverage
• 109,517 Virginia seniors could have to pay more for their prescription drugs
• Insurance companies would be allowed to discriminate against women by charging them higher premiums
• $1.15 billion in tax credits that helped 335,000 Virginians afford insurance in 2017 would be ended
• Funding from our nation’s public health system would be stripped, including work to combat the opioid epidemic
• Billions in federal aid for health care would be stripped, including $458 million in FY 2019 and $1.9 billion in FY 2020
In briefs and at oral argument, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues highlighted the consequences of striking down the Affordable Care Act. Such a ruling would affect nearly every American, including:
• 133 million Americans, including 17 million kids, with preexisting health conditions
• Young adults under 26 years of age, who are covered under a parent’s health plan
• More than 12 million Americans who received coverage through Medicaid expansion
• 12 million seniors who receive a Medicare benefit to afford prescription drugs
• Working families who rely on tax credits and employer-sponsored plans to afford insurance
After failing to repeal the ACA in Congress, Republican attorneys general and the Trump Administration are pushing this case based on a novel theory that the Republican tax bill passed in 2017 somehow rendered the entire ACA unconstitutional.
On December 14, 2018, Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas issued his decision agreeing with the plaintiffs. In response, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues filed a motion to stay the effect of that decision and to expedite resolution of this case. The District Court granted that motion on December 30, 2018. On January 3, 2019, the coalition continued their legal defense in the ACA and formally filed a notice of appeal, challenging the District Court’s December 14 opinion in the Fifth Circuit.
In March of this year, Attorney General Herring and the coalition of state attorneys general filed their opening brief arguing that the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the minimum coverage provision, because the individual plaintiffs are not injured by a provision that now offers a lawful choice between buying insurance and paying a zero-dollar tax. The attorneys general further argue that the state plaintiffs also lack standing, because there is no evidence that the amended provision will require them to spend more money. Lastly, the District Court wrongly concluded that the minimum coverage provision was unconstitutional, and even if it were, there would be no legal basis for also declaring the rest of the ACA invalid—including its provisions expanding Medicaid, reforming Medicare, and providing protections to individuals with preexisting health conditions.
Joining Attorney General Herring in today’s filing are the Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota (by and through its Department of Commerce), Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Governor of Kentucky.
Governor Northam COVID-19 update briefing – March 27, 2020
Virginia U.S. Attorneys issue statement on Virginia recommendations regarding medical prescriptions during COVID-19 pandemic
On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver, in response to a surge in demand of potential treatments for COVID-19 for drugs commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, lupus, malaria, and bacterial infections, reminded physicians and pharmacists that these life-sustaining medications should only be dispensed under specified limited circumstances based on legitimate medical need. Dr. Oliver also warned against improper dispensing and potential hoarding of these medications.
On March 27, 2020, U.S. Attorneys Thomas Cullen and Zach Terwilliger issued a statement confirming that federal prosecutors are aware of Dr. Oliver’s warnings regarding this increased demand and potentially improper behavior by physicians and other health-care providers who may be improperly prescribing these drugs to themselves, their families, and others without a legitimate medical purpose. The U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia, as part of their joint COVID-19 Fraud Task Force, will be closely monitoring this disturbing trend and are prepared to investigate potential violations of federal and state law committed by any individuals or entities, including physicians, dentists, and other healthcare providers, related to these prescription drugs.
“At a time when many doctors, nurses, and first responders are risking their health and personal safety to treat those affected by the coronavirus, it is incredibly disturbing that a selfish minority in that field may be undermining these valiant efforts by prescribing outside legitimate medical practice,” said U.S. Attorney Cullen. “We will work closely with our federal, state, and local partners to identify unscrupulous physicians and other health-care providers who are putting their own well-being ahead of those with a true medical need and hold them accountable under the law.”
“Our office is committed to protecting the public at this critical time, including Virginians who rely on life-sustaining prescription drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger. “We will act swiftly in coordination with our law enforcement partners to safeguard these critical medications for those who need them against healthcare providers who improperly dispense them.”
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, or need more information about COVID-19, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdva/covid-19-fraud
For more information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva
To report fraud directly to the FBI, please visit their website at https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
Governor Northam encourages Virginians to complete 2020 Census online amid COVID-19 outbreak
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today encouraged Virginians to complete the 2020 Census online as the country works to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19. This week, households across Virginia began receiving invitations from the U.S. Census Bureau to complete the 2020 Census. For the first time ever, individuals are able to complete their forms online, via phone, or mail. The statewide virtual Week of Action from Friday, March 27 to Thursday, April 2 will highlight Census Day on April 1, and encourage Virginians to participate in the 2020 Census.
“Though many Virginians are focused on COVID-19, it is still crucial that everyone takes time to complete the 2020 Census, which can be done quickly and easily online,” said Governor Northam. “Counting every person in the Commonwealth will ensure that we receive our portion of the more than $675 billion in federal funding that will be allocated to states for important programs, from Medicaid to school breakfasts.”
By last Friday, an estimated 140 million households had received an invitation from the U.S. Census Bureau to complete the 2020 Census. To date, approximately 18.6 million households have responded to the Census. Though data collection continues, the U.S. Census Bureau has modified some of its field operations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Today, Governor Northam also announced a Virtual Statewide Week of Action, which includes Census Day on Wednesday, April 1. From Friday, March 27 through Thursday, April 2, Virginians are encouraged to virtually promote the 2020 Census and “Determine Your Decade: YOUR Representation. YOUR Community Funding. YOUR Civic Duty.”
A full list of events is located below:
Friday, March 27 – Sunday, March 29 | Interfaith Engagement
Faith Leaders and communities are encouraged to commit to being a faith partner through the following efforts:
- Religious Teachings: Incorporate Census messaging into a virtual sermon, lesson, litany, or other teachings. This is an opportunity to preach or teach on the importance of being counted in the 2020 Census.
- Announcement or Presentation: Allow a member of the U.S. Census Bureau, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Virginia Complete Count Commission, or a local Complete Count Committee to virtually connect with your congregation and provide a Census-related message.
- Video Messaging: Share a Census-related video message with your congregation via email or through social media channels.
- Social Media: Encourage parishioners to follow @CountOnVirginia on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for Census-related updates. Leverage your own social media and that of your congregants to spread the word about the 2020 Census.
- Digital Platforms: Work with local media to share key messages about the upcoming Census. You may consider writing an op-ed or being interviewed by a local reporter.
- Text Messaging: Encourage parishioners to text PLEDGE or CENSO to (804) 203-0393 for Census updates and reminders.
Monday, March 30 | Social Media Monday
Virginians can “Get Social on Media Monday” by following Virginia’s Census engagement efforts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Virginians are also invited to participate in a Twitter chat about what’s at stake in the 2020 Census. Questions can be tweeted to @CountOnVirginia. Promote the Census using the hashtags #Census2020, #VACompleteCount, and #CountOnVirginia. Additionally, individuals are encouraged to change their Facebook profile picture frames to promote the Census.
Tuesday, March 31 | Text It Tuesday: Pledge to be Counted
The Northam administration has partnered with CommunityConnect Labs to use mobile messaging to connect with hard-to-reach populations. Virginians are encouraged to “Pledge to be Counted” by texting the word “PLEDGE” or “CENSO” (Español) to the number for their respective locality. Participants will receive a digital pledge card that can be shared on social media. Standard text messaging data rates may apply.
Valley: (540) 235-5155
Northern: (703) 684-0007 or (571) 200-0828
Coastal: (757) 210-3232
Southside: (434) 201-4884
Southwest: (276) 218-8138
Central: (804) 203-0393
Wednesday, April 1 | Spread the Word Wednesday
Since 1930, Census Day has been observed on April 1. By this date, all households will have received an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Organizations are encouraged to send electronic correspondence to subscribers promoting the 2020 Census and sharing instructions for how individuals can complete the Census online, by phone, or by mail.
Thursday, April 2 | Townhall Thursday
Organizations are encouraged to host virtual townhalls via Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, and other platforms to promote the 2020 Census.
“It’s important that we come together as a community to determine our decade and be counted in the 2020 Census,” Secretary of the Commonwealth Kelly Thomasson. “Taking 10 minutes to complete our Census questionnaires online will help our communities for the next 10 years.”
How to Complete the 2020 Census Online
- To respond online, go to 2020census.gov. The online form is available in English and 12 other languages. Additionally, video guides showing people how to complete the online questionnaire are available in English and 59 other languages.
- A sample 2020 Census questionnaire is available here.
About the Virginia Complete Count Commission
On December 18, 2018, Governor Northam signed Executive Order Twenty-Seven establishing the Virginia Complete Count Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to improve participation and representation of all Virginians in the 2020 Census. The Commission facilitates the sharing of ideas and community resources regarding the 2020 Census and serves as a conduit between the Commonwealth and the United States Census Bureau.
The Virginia Complete Count Commission serves as a trusted voice and resource to educate, empower, and engage all communities for the purpose of ensuring that everyone who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia is counted in the 2020 Census.
Kaine & Warner urge administration to approve Virginia National Guard funding request amid COVID-19 outbreak
~ Title 32 approval would provide federal funding for Virginia’s National Guard emergency response missions amid the health crisis ~
WASHINGTON – On March 27, 2020, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA), along with U.S. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Don Beyer (D-VA), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Denver Riggleman (R-VA) Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to swiftly approve federal funding for the Virginia National Guard to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We write to urge you to quickly approve the request made by Governor Ralph Northam for additional authorities and funding under Title 32 U.S. Code 502(f)(2)(A) to assist the Commonwealth of Virginia to combat the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Governor Northam requests this authority and funding for the Virginia National Guard as they work to respond to incidents related to the preservation of life and property in connection with COVID-19 emergency response efforts,” wrote the members of Congress in their letter to President Donald Trump.
Several states across the country have begun to mobilize their National Guards to assist in their response to the coronavirus outbreak. Under Title 32, Virginia’s Governor would have the authority to deploy units to communities across the Commonwealth to help distribute food, support local test facilities, and assist first responders and health providers. Additionally, this request would allow the federal government to cover the cost of these critical missions.
On March 24, the Governor of Virginia determined the need to increase the Virginia National Guard force to full-time status in an effort to help with the coronavirus emergency response across the Commonwealth.
“We urge your prompt approval of this request so Governor Northam may fully task the Virginia National Guard as he finds necessary to support the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 response efforts in support of this national emergency declaration,” they concluded.
Earlier this week, the Senate approved a $2 trillion bipartisan coronavirus economic relief package that includes $1.4 billion for the deployment of the National Guard. This funding level will sustain up to 20,000 members of the National Guard under the direction of the governors of each state for the next six months in order to support state and local response efforts to the health crisis. The House of Representatives will vote on the economic package later today.
Governor Northam directs postponement of elective surgeries
~ Order will preserve medical beds and personal protective equipment for COVID-19 response ~
On March 25, 2020, Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA directed all hospitals to stop performing elective surgeries or procedures to help conserve supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE).
The public health emergency order does not apply to any procedure if the delay would cause harm to a patient. The order also does not apply to outpatient visits in hospital-based clinics, family planning services, or emergency needs.
Earlier this week, Governor Northam recommended that hospitals postpone any elective surgeries, and many have already done so.
“Hospitals and medical facilities in Virginia and around the country are in desperate need of additional masks, gowns, gloves, and other personal protective equipment,” said Governor Northam. “While we work to increase our supply, it makes sense to decrease the demand for that equipment where we can. Postponing elective surgeries allows us to divert more PPE to the medical staff who are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak so we can better protect the men and men on the front lines of this public health emergency, fighting to keep us all safe.”
Licensed inpatient and outpatient surgical hospitals, free-standing endoscopy centers, physicians’ offices, and dental, orthodontic, and endodontic offices may perform any procedure or surgery that if delayed or canceled would result in the patient’s condition worsening. Outpatient surgical hospitals are encouraged to work with local inpatient hospitals to assist with surge capacity needs. The full text of Order of Public Health Emergency Two is available here.
Virginia received its first shipment of PPE from the national stockpile this week and the state has made its second request. The Governor continues to call for a nationally-led response for acquiring and distributing PPE so that states are not competing against each other, the federal government, and even other countries for the equipment, causing higher prices in the private sector.
Last week, Governor Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Two that lifts Virginia’s certificate of public need restrictions, allowing hospitals and nursing homes to increase their bed capacity as needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Governor Northam has ordered many non-essential businesses to close for 30 days and told Virginians to stay home except for necessary trips out, so as to increase social distancing and slow the spread of the virus.