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Governor Northam vetoes legislation that would undermine efforts to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all Virginians

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RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed Senate Bills 844, 934, 935, and 964, which would put Virginians at risk of being underinsured, result in rapidly increasing Marketplace premiums, and undermine key protections in the Affordable Care Act. Governor Northam remains committed to expanding health care for nearly 400,000 uninsured Virginians, return millions to the state budget, and reduce Marketplace premiums. The Governor’s full veto statements are below.

Senate Bill 844

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 844. This bill would authorize health insurance carriers in the Commonwealth to offer short-term health plans that last up to 364 days, contingent upon the adoption of federal regulations extending the allowable length of short-term health plans.


This legislation would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. Senate Bill 844 would allow insurance carriers and individuals to circumvent the protections in the Affordable Care Act. Short-term plans are stopgap policies that frequently do not cover mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, or maternity benefits. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these skimpy plans, leaving people who have more significant health care needs in the Marketplace. The adverse selection associated with short-term plans, in combination with the elimination of the federal individual mandate, will increase Virginia Marketplace premiums 19.1%, according to the Urban Institute. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage. Senate Bill 844 would undermine efforts to make sure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

Senate Bill 934

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 934, which would allow non-profit associations to sell health insurance plans to their members, exempt from state taxation and insurance regulations.

This legislation would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. Senate Bill 934 would allow non-profit associations and their members to circumvent state protections as well as those in the Affordable Care Act. Through this exemption, association plans would not be required to provide comprehensive coverage and may not cover essential benefits like mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, or maternity benefits. Moreover, association plans will be able to discriminate against people by charging them more based on characteristics like their gender and occupation. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these meager plans, leaving people who have more significant health care needs in the Marketplace. The adverse selection associated with these plans would contribute to the increase in Virginia Marketplace premiums. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage. Senate Bill 934 would undermine efforts to ensure that all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

Senate Bill 935

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 935. This legislation would replace references to “bona fide association” as used in provisions applicable to health insurance plans with the term “sponsoring association.”

Senate Bill 935, in combination with Senate Bill 934, would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. This bill would make technical changes to allow non-profit associations and their members to circumvent state protections as well as those in the Affordable Care Act. Through this exemption, association plans are not required to provide comprehensive coverage and may not cover essential benefits like mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, or maternity benefits. Moreover, association plans will be able to discriminate against people by charging them more because of characteristics like gender and occupation. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these skimpy plans, leaving people with more significant health care needs in the Marketplace. The adverse selection associated with these plans would contribute to the increase in Virginia Marketplace premiums. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings that insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage. Senate Bill 935 would undermine efforts to make sure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

 

Senate Bill 964

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 964, which would direct the Commissioner of Insurance to request federal permission for insurance carriers to offer catastrophic plans to all individuals purchasing coverage through the Marketplace.

This legislation would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. Senate Bill 964 would allow insurance carriers and individuals to circumvent the protections in the Affordable Care Act. Under current law, catastrophic plans are only available for individuals who are younger than 30 years of age and individuals who qualify for a hardship or affordability exemption. Catastrophic plans typically have lower premiums because they require individuals to pay deductibles in excess of $7,000 before the plan pays for health care costs. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these threadbare plans. This adverse selection would contribute to the increase in Virginia Marketplace premiums. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage. Senate Bill 964 would undermine efforts to make sure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

Ralph S. Northam

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Virginia Department of Elections announces results for the 2022 Risk-Limiting Audit of the 2021 November General Election

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The Virginia Department of Elections’ (ELECT) Commissioner Christopher Piper announced today that Virginia’s election administrators have successfully completed the 2022 Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) of the 2021 November General Election.

During a live drawing held at the December 13 meeting of the State Board of Elections (SBE), the SBE randomly selected the 75th and 13th House of Delegates Districts for audit. The audit began on January 3 and concluded on January 20. The participating localities in the 2022 Risk-Limiting Audit included:

  • House of Delegates 75th District – Brunswick, Emporia City, Franklin City, Greensville, Lunenburg, Southampton and Sussex
  • House of Delegates 13th District – Prince William County and Manassas Park City

The audit confirmed with over 99% confidence that Otto Wachsmann was the winner of the House of Delegates 75th District contest and Danica Roem was the winner of the House of Delegates 13th District race.

“Once again, Virginia’s election administrators have successfully demonstrated their experience and dedication to ensuring secure and reliable election results by using the audit process,” said Christopher Piper, Virginia’s Commissioner of Elections. “The success of these audits is reliant upon the guidance of our local election leaders.”


Pursuant to Va. Code §24.2-671.1, ELECT is required to coordinate an annual post-election RLA of ballot scanner machines used in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  RLAs utilize statistical principles to empirically prove that the voting system software accurately reported the results of an election.

The 2022 Risk-Limiting Audit Report of the 2021 November General Election will be available to the public in March.

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Governor Youngkin announces School Choice Proclamation

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On January 26, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced this week as School Choice week, and issued a proclamation highlighting the importance of school choice for Virginia’s students and parents.

“As your governor, I will continually stand up for students and parents and will sign the largest education budget in Virginia’s history. Our goal is that every student will graduate high school ready to go to college or start a great career. Choice and innovation within public education is vital to achieving that goal. That’s why together we will not only raise standards and raise teacher pay, but we will invest $150 million to kick start 20 new charter schools in the Commonwealth. We must empower parents and students with choice and innovation in K-12 public education,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Read a full copy of the School Choice proclamation below.

Virginia School Choice Week


WHEREAS, all children in Virginia should have access to a high quality public education; and,

WHEREAS, Virginia recognizes the important role that a quality education plays in preparing all students in Virginia for success in life; and,

WHEREAS, quality education is critically important to the economic vitality and vibrancy of the communities of the Commonwealth; and,

WHEREAS, students have different needs and learning styles and a monolithic delivery of education does not serve the myriad needs of families;

WHEREAS, Virginia currently has only 7 charter schools, but its neighboring state of North Carolina has close to 200 and the District of Columbia has 123; and,

WHEREAS, School Choice Week is celebrated across the country by millions of students, parents, educators, schools, and organizations to raise awareness of the need for effective educational options.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Glenn Youngkin, do hereby recognize January 23 – January 29, 2022

as VIRGINIA SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and

I call this observance to the attention of all of our citizens, and proclaim that:

Virginia must empower parents by creating innovation within K-12 public schools to best adapt to the needs of Commonwealth’s students; and,

Virginia is committed to increasing education options for its youth by seeking $150 million to help meet a goal of starting at least 20 new public charter schools in the Commonwealth; and,

Virginia will build partnerships between the Commonwealth and our great universities to create lab schools of excellence; and,

Virginia will raise education standards to elevate students to high performing levels and reinstitute merit-based acceptance to Governor’s and magnet schools; and,

Virginia will empower parents to make choices about the educational needs of their children.

 

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Virginia Department of Elections releases post-elections report

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Recently, the Virginia Department of Elections (ELECT) released its annual post-election report for the 2021 November General Election; this report not only generates a historical record of the election, but it also highlights its successes and areas where improvements could be made.

The November 2021 General Election continued to pose the same challenges election administrators faced in November 2020: an ongoing global health pandemic and a monumental dissemination of misinformation and disinformation about the legitimacy of the electoral process.

Following each November General Election since 2018, ELECT has produced this report to highlight several areas of work done in 2021 to include law and regulatory changes impacting the administration of elections, participation in the election, key challenges/major issues, and election administration tasks completed.

The report also spotlights initiatives such as Virginia’s successful Voter Education and Outreach Campaign and collaborating with partners such as Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corps as well as the United States Postal Service to help mitigate challenges brought on by issues such as COVID-19.


“ELECT produces the post-election report annually to reinforce our agency’s continued commitment to transparency” said Christopher Piper, Virginia Department of Elections’ Commissioner. “We are proud to be able to document the work that the Commonwealth’s election administrators, electoral board members, and ELECT staff do to conduct secure and accurate elections in Virginia.”

The post-election report was presented by Commissioner Piper at the January 18 meeting of the State Board of Elections. You can find a copy of the report on ELECT’s website here.

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Governor Youngkin announces updated guidelines for parents, educators, and preK-12 schools

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On January 21, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced updated guidelines for parents, educators, and schools per Executive Order 2, which creates a parental opt-out from mask mandates at both public and private schools in the Commonwealth. The guidelines were developed by the Virginia Department of Health and the Department of Education.

“I have said all along that we are going to stand up for parents. Executive Order 2 is not about pro-masks versus anti-mask, it’s about empowering parents. I am confident that the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in the favor of parents, reaffirming the parental rights clearly laid out in the Virginia code § 1-240.1. In the meantime, I urge all parents to listen to their principal and trust the legal process. If you have any questions or concerns please contact us at helpeducation@governor.virginia.gov,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Click here to read a full copy of guidelines from the Virginia Department of Health and the Department of Education.

Click here for the constituent services page.


The updated guidance is redesigned around Governor Youngkin’s key principles of parental rights, keeping kids in the classroom five days a week, and keeping kids safe and healthy. The update guidelines:

  • Emphasizes alternative mitigation measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 including vaccination, distancing, and outbreak awareness.
  • Provides a clear decision tree for parents to review when trying to determine how to keep and return children to the classroom.
  • Strongly encourages test-to-stay and other strategies to keep and return kids to the classroom as quickly as possible
  • Gives schools practicable flexibility on contact tracing, distancing, and other strategies.
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Governor Youngkin announces legislative agenda priorities

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RICHMOND, VA—On January 21, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced the legislation, budget amendments, and initiatives he will be supporting to further his Day One Agenda priorities.

“Today, I am proud to share the more than 59 pieces of legislation and a package of more than 25 budget amendments that I will be supporting. These reflect bipartisan priorities like fully eliminating the grocery tax, doing more to train and equip our workforce, and providing funding to create 20 new innovation schools across the Commonwealth. These initiatives will make Virginia’s communities safer, restore academic excellence, lower the cost of living, and I look forward to seeing these bills come to my desk,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.

Click here to read the full Legislative Day One Game Plan.

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Governor Youngkin announces Covid Action Plan

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RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – On January 20, 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin announced his COVID Action Plan concurrent with Executive Order Number Eleven to provide hospitals, health systems, nursing facilities, and other healthcare providers the tools necessary to combat COVID-19. The plan also includes issuing clear testing guidelines to prioritize the use of COVID rapid tests and marshaling further resources to encourage Virginians to get the vaccine.

“While many families have experienced tragedy over the last two years, Virginians have truly embodied the spirit of Virginia as they came together to fight a common enemy—COVID-19,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Today’s announcements are designed to give Virginians the tools and resources needed to make the best decisions for their families, strengthen our hospital systems, and ensure a strong recovery as we encounter new challenges associated with the pandemic that has become part of our everyday life.”

COVID-19 Vaccine Marshall Plan for Virginia

Governor Glenn Youngkin will devote additional resources and efforts to encouraging the nearly 1.6 million Virginians who are still unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that people vaccinated from COVID-19 are 4 times less likely to be hospitalized than those who are not. Governor Youngkin’s actions include:


  • Directing the Secretary of Health to re-prioritize resources toward vaccine education and outreach, including expanded efforts in disproportionately unvaccinated communities.
  • Plan to host and attend COVID-19 vaccine events across the Commonwealth.
  • Working with Governors across the country to learn best practices on vaccine education.
  • Empowering Virginia with choices, not mandates.
  • Expanded Healthcare Flexibility & Support

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed Executive Order #11 to give healthcare providers flexibility and support to battle staffing shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and unconstitutional federal mandates on healthcare workers. Virginia’s hospitals and healthcare facilities are in crisis. Governor Youngkin’s actions include:

  • Allowing hospitals and nursing homes to rapidly expand bed capacity by waiving regulations.
  • Providing flexibility for qualified out-of-state nurses and healthcare professionals to practice in Virginia.
  • Creating appropriate exemptions to the scope of practice requirements to allow healthcare providers to care for patients in this difficult time.
  • Expanding the number of providers available to offer the Covid-19 vaccine.
  • Expanding flexibility, overtime hours, and availably for personal care workers.
  • Prioritized Testing Guidelines

Governor Glenn Youngkin will prioritize testing guidelines to mitigate supply-chain shortages for COVID-19 tests. The Governor will discourage mass testing for the purposes of pre-screening, discourage asymptomatic individuals from testing, and urge healthy individuals with mild symptoms to stay home and use discretion on testing. Governor Youngkin’s actions include:

  • Expedite pending orders of rapid tests.
  • Redeploy unused tests at state agencies and other non-essential facilities to schools, hospitals, and nursing facilities.
  • Directing the State Health Commissioner to issue new guidelines that prioritize the use of rapid tests for key categories including Students potentially exposed to COVID-19 who need to test to remain in school. Essential healthcare professionals and other essential workers needing to be tested to return to work. Vulnerable citizens including those in nursing facilities and over the age of 65. Those with serious medical conditions and their caregivers. Those who need to be tested after consultation with a healthcare provider.

Click here to read the full copy of Executive Order # 11.

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