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Results tagged “Health Care”

July 10, 2014

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "Republican opponents of expanding Virginia's Medicaid program want the General Assembly to debate the idea in late September, but Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Democratic legislators say they're still waiting for the GOP's plan to close the health coverage gap for hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians. House Speaker William J. Howell, R-Stafford, the leader of legislative opposition to using federal funds to expand health coverage, said Wednesday that he will call the House into session the week of Sept. 22 to debate the issue."

Progressive Point: Virginians deserve the same health security offered to citizens of every other state under the Affordable Care Act. Speaker Howell and his Tea Party allies have rejected compromise after compromise in their efforts to block 400,000 Virginians from accessing quality, affordable care. Now Howell is playing more political games instead of offering a plan to help Virginia families and bring our tax dollars back to the Commonwealth.

Speaker Howell and Tea Party politicians have repeatedly rejected compromise and refused to come to the table to help working families. Virginians shouldn't expect anything different from a new special session--just more of the same lies and obstruction. It is no secret that Tea Party politicians are unwilling to engage in any serious discussion around closing our Commonwealth's coverage gap. If the Speaker and the Tea Party were serious about finding a solution, they would offer a plan instead of just scheduling the next time they plan to say no.

Get the Facts:

  • Speaker Howell has said will call the Virginia House of Delegates into session the week of Sept. 22 to debate health care expansion. As of today, the Virginia's Republicans have no plan for expanding health coverage or compromise. The Virginia State Senate has previously put forward a bipartisan plan for expansion and Gov. Terry McAuliffe has recently instructed Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel to put forward a plan by Sept. 1. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, July 9, 2014)

  • Conservative legislators in the State Senate went back on their calls for a "clean budget" in June and amended the state budget in their attempt to block closing the health care coverage gap. the amendment required "that the General Assembly authorize any increased spending on Medicaid." (Washington Post, June 13, 2014)

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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June 27, 2014

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "A series of emails from the interim director of the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission outline plans devised by Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Scott, to offer Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, a senior job with the commission after his resignation from the Virginia Senate. The emails, obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, document the overtures made by Kilgore through the commission in the week leading up to Puckett's June 9 resignation, which effectively transferred power from Senate Democrats to Senate Republicans -- giving the GOP a majority in the evenly divided chamber prior to a crucial vote on the state budget and Medicaid expansion."

Progressive Point: Virginians expect our leaders to work together to get things done. Trying to bribe legislators with cushy state jobs to block closing the coverage gap should be beneath any representative. Tea Party officials using corruption to circumvent compromise doesn't serve constituents or the Commonwealth.

Underhanded schemes and backroom deals are simply unacceptable. Emails detailing Del. Terry Kilgore's arrangement with Sen. Phil Puckett for a cushy job at the Tobacco Commission reveal the Tea Party's willingness to bypass ethics and go straight to corruption. Sadly, these emails are just the latest sign that Speaker Howell and Del. Kilgore will go to any length to deny health care to 400,000 Virginians.

Get the Facts:

  • ProgressVA was the first to call for an immediate investigation into allegations House Republicans and Delegate and Tobacco Commission Chair Terry Kilgore cut a deal to provide State Senator Philip Puckett a job at the Tobacco Commission and judgeship for his daughter in exchange for his resignation. In a press call with reporters, ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl stated, "This kind of quid pro quo involving government resources should be taken very seriously, which is why today we're calling for an investigation into this alleged deal, to determine if state resources have been misappropriated or laws broken." (ProgressVA, June 9, 2014)
  • Conservative legislators in the State Senate went back on their calls for a "clean budget" on June 12, 2014 and amended the state budget in their attempt to block closing the health care coverage gap. the amendment requires "that the General Assembly authorize any increased spending on Medicaid." (Washington Post, June 13, 2014)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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June 23, 2014

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The Daily Press reports, "Speaker of the House William Howell declared a key pair of gubernatorial vetoes unconstitutional Monday evening, furthering a political power struggle over Medicaid expansion in Virginia. The issue - and the larger argument over whether Gov. Terry McAuliffe can expand Medicaid without legislative approval - seems to be headed for a court battle... As Howell announced his decision, labor union advocates in the House gallery stood and turned their backs to the chamber. They said later that's what House Republicans did to people who would benefit from expansion."

Progressive Point: The House of Delegates has repeatedly refused to do their job rather than work together for Virginians. Last night's legislative shenanigans were the latest in a long string of political pigheadedness by House conservatives. These Tea Party politicians are either unable or unwilling to engage in any serious discussion around closing our Commonwealth's coverage gap. For four years now, the House has rejected compromise after compromise and refused to help working families.

Tea Party legislators' agenda had one goal: block any compromise that would extend health care to 400,000 low-income Virginians. Torpedoing every effort just to appease Tea Party partisans hurts the health of our Commonwealth and our families. Virginians shouldn't be continually surprised and disappointed by how far House conservatives will go to prevent their own constituents from getting access to the health care they desperately need right now.

Get the Facts:

  • Last night in Richmond, over 30 advocates for closing the coverage gap gathered in the House of Delegates gallery to witness the House turn their backs on uninsured Virginians. When the House refused to take any further action on measures regarding Medicaid Expansion, advocates in the gallery rose and turned their backs on the legislature, a silent protest for the 400,000 Virginians in the coverage gap the House continues to ignore. Speaker Howell circumvented the legislative process and refused to allow the House to consider the Governor's vetoes relating to Medicaid and expansion, setting up a courtroom showdown. (ProgressVA, June 23, 2014)
  • "I am continually surprised and disappointed by the lengths to which Republicans in the House of Delegates will go to prevent their own constituents from getting access to health care. Instead of putting all of my vetoes through the process prescribed by the Constitution of Virginia, House Republicans robbed the voters of their voice by using a procedural gimmick to obstruct the normal legislative process where this veto was concerned. If my veto was as objectionable as House leadership claimed, they should not have had any difficulty overriding it in both chambers. Instead, the Speaker elected to exercise powers that the Constitution of Virginia reserves solely for members of the Judicial Branch." (Governor Terry McAuliffe, June 23, 2014)
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    • Caucus Chair Sen. Donald McEachin (D - Henrico), "Speaker Howell's transparently partisan decree means legislators never even got to vote on Gov. McAuliffe's veto. Instead of letting legislators do their job, he took matters into his own hands and prevented the fair debate that Virginians expect and deserve. This is not the Virginia way - it's the kind of hyper-partisan obstruction that voters expect from Washington. All Virginians deserve better - especially the countless uninsured families whom House Republicans refuse to help."
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    • Democratic Leader Sen. Dick Saslaw (D - Fairfax), "There are many Republican governors who are expanding Medicaid, but once again, the obstinacy of House Republicans means that up to 400,000 uninsured Virginians - most from working families - still don't have access to quality, affordable health care. It's unfortunate that House Republicans can't acknowledge that people need health care. The House of Delegates sees nothing wrong with taxing Virginians twice by refusing to bring back the tax dollars that we've already sent to Washington."

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June 19, 2014

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ProgressVA Executive Director Anna Scholl released the following statement in reaction to Governor Terry McAuliffe's budget announcements: "Governor McAuliffe took a definite step forward today towards closing the coverage gap. While there is still more work to be done, these actions demonstrate a commitment to the 400,000 Virginians who deserve access to affordable, quality health care. The House of Delegates has repeatedly refused to compromise, turning their backs on their constituents in favor of blatant political gamesmanship."

Progressive Point: It's past time our elected officials in Richmond put the needs of their constituents before political games. Expanding health care to the hundreds of thousands of working Virginians who desperately need it means saving money, saving lives, and a stronger and healthier Commonwealth. Across the country, conservative governors and legislatures are closing the health care coverage gap because they know what's best for the people of their states. Governor McAuliffe made clear today there is no excuse not to move forward and close it here.

Working Virginians deserve legislators that work for them. That means coming to the table to decide how to provide the same health security to Virginians offered to citizens in every other state. Speaker Howell and his Tea Party caucus have rejected compromise after compromise. It's past time to end their political games, deceptions, and back room deals and come to the table to find a solution that closes the coverage gap. 

Get the Facts:

Governor McAuliffe's full statement on his budget actions is available via Blue Virginia.

Del. Scott Surovell breaks down Governor McAuliffe's vetoes: 

Veto #1 - Medicaid Innovation Review Commission
The Governor has vetoed the Medicaid Innovation and Review Committee (MIRC).  The MIRC was created as a compromise in the 2013 session after some members objected to passing the Governor's transportation package without also passing Medicaid Expansion.  We were promised that the MIRC would lead to expansion.  It has done nothing.

The Governor also believes that the MIRC is a "sham" and he has directed his staff to stop participating in meetings or providing information.

Veto #2 - Stanley Amendment Banning Medicaid Expansion
The Governor has also vetoed "the Stanley Amendment" to the budget which specifically prohibited a Medicaid Expansion without the approval of the legislature.  There is no money tied to this language so the Governor believes it may be vetoed on its own.

Veto #3 - Funding for New Judgeships
The Governor has vetoed all funding for new judgeships.  He believes that funding judgeships and leaving a special session open for appointments is an assault on his power as Governor (the Governor gets to appoint temporary judges to Circuit Court and appellate courts if we are out of session).

Veto #4 - Chesterfield-Petersburg School Partnership
The Governor is vetoing language allowing Chesterfield County to partner with Petersburg City on public schools.  The Governor believes this is rife with legal problems and was not requested by either locality.

Veto #5 - $4.6 Million cut from FACT Fund
The legislature created the FACT Fund to deal with contingencies created by cuts caused by the sequester.  The Governor believes that these cuts are an assault on Virginia's military and he does not support it.

Veto #6 - Funding for Ethics Advisory Commission
The Governor argues that the ethics legislation passed by the General Assembly this year was window dressing that did little (I agree with him).  He has vetoed money to pay for staff for a new Ethics Advisory Commission and he will introduce legislation next session.

Veto #7 - Forfeiture & Settlements
There was language inserted in the budget that limited how the Attorney General could use monies recovered from forfeitures and settlements.  The Governor vetoed this language at the request of the Attorney General.

June 19, 2014

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the circumstances surrounding the recent resignation of state Sen. Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, including his alleged consideration for a job on the state tobacco commission and the pending judicial appointment of his daughter in Southwest Virginia. Sources familiar with the probe, speaking on condition of anonymity, said representatives of the FBI and United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Virginia have been conducting interviews, including with elected officials who may have knowledge of the chain of events."

Progressive Point: The culture of corruption in Richmond has gone too far. Legislators are now under investigation for their bribery scheme to block health care for 400,000 working Virginians. From Bob McDonnell's Gift-gate scandal to attacking voting rights on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Virginians suffer when unethical behavior has become business-as-usual for Tea Party politicians like Speaker Howell, Sen. Black, and Del. Kilgore.

Virginians expect our leaders to work together and protect the reputation of our state. Instead, conservatives rejected compromise, went back on their word, and engaged in bribery schemes just so they could block closing the coverage gap for 400,000 Virginians. Extremist politicians have taken over the General Assembly and demonstrated they would rather break the law and engage in back room deals rather than help their constituents in need.

Get the Facts:

  • ProgressVA was the first to call for an immediate investigation into allegations House Republicans and Delegate and Tobacco Commission Chair Terry Kilgore cut a deal to provide State Senator Philip Puckett a job at the Tobacco Commission and judgeship for his daughter in exchange for his resignation. In a press call with reporters, ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl stated, "This kind of quid pro quo involving government resources should be taken very seriously, which is why today we're calling for an investigation into this alleged deal, to determine if state resources have been misappropriated or laws broken." (ProgressVA, June 9, 2014) 
  • Conservative legislators in the State Senate went back on their calls for a "clean budget" last night and amended the state budget in their attempt to block closing the health care coverage gap. the amendment requires "that the General Assembly authorize any increased spending on Medicaid." (Washington Post, June 13, 2014) 
  • In January 2013, GOP legislators snuck through a secret plan to redraw Virginia's State Senate disctricts while Sen. Marsh (D), a civil rights leader, attended the second inauguration of the nation's first black president, being held on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The conservative plan manipulated the voter district lines and the Electoral College. (ProgressVA, January 28, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012) 

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June 16, 2014

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The Prince William Times editorializes, "We accept that politics is a always dirty business but this week's General Assembly drama may be a new low for Virginia...It's true that America has a long tradition of legal gray-scale bribery in politics. Lobbyists give campaign donations in exchange for special consideration and legislators can promise my vote on your bill in exchange for your vote on mine. But personal jobs, favors and money crosses the line. [State Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell)]'s well-timed resignation in exchange for a job may not be outright illegal, but it's outright unethical."

Progressive Point: Across the Commonwealth, working Virginia families have been left struggling without health care by their own elected officials. Last week, conservative legislators voted against getting those families the health coverage they desperately need. The General Assembly has chosen a Tea Party budget over extending health security to low income Virginians, and embraced bribing politicians to push their right wing agenda through Richmond.

Tea Party legislators hijacked the biennial budget last week to attack 400,000 low-income Virginians now stranded without health care. These same Senators and Delegates discarded their calls for a clean budget because compromise to them has now become a dirty word. Our Commonwealth's budget should reflect Virginia values--instead Richmond politicians ignored our priorities to appease Tea Party extremists.

Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislators in the State Senate went back on their calls for a "clean budget" last night and amended the state budget in their attempt to block closing the health care coverage gap. the amendment requires "that the General Assembly authorize any increased spending on Medicaid." (Washington Post, June 13, 2014)

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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June 13, 2014

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The Washington Post reports, "The Virginia General Assembly adopted a long-delayed state budget late Thursday, acting after an hours-long debate among newly ascendant Senate Republicans who fought among themselves over whether the plan threw up sufficient barriers to Medicaid expansion... But they first amended it in a way intended to make it harder to expand the federal-state healthcare program for the poor under the federal Affordable Care Act -- Gov. Terry McAuliffe's top legislative priority."

Progressive Point: When elected officials lie to their constituents they must be held accountable. Tea Partiers legislative action last night against low-income Virginians without health care undermines their six months of deceitful words calling for a "clean" budget. They attached punitive amendments to the budget to prohibit closing the coverage gap in a mean-spirited attempt to deny Virginians affordable health care for years to come. The Tea Party has taken over the Virginia General Assembly and has zero interest in helping the thousands of Virginia families who are struggling to make ends meet and cover medical bills.

George Washington's motto was "Deeds, not words." Neither the deeds nor words of Tea Party legislators in our Commonwealth today can hold a candle to his legacy. Their actions last night revealed that their repeated calls for a "clean" budget were disingenuous at best and an outright deception at worst. Virginians expect our leaders to work together. Instead, conservatives rejected compromise and went back on their word just so they further block closing the coverage gap for 400,000 Virginians. 

Get the Facts:

  • Conservative legislators in the State Senate went back on their calls for a "clean budget" last night and amended the state budget in their attempt to block closing the health care coverage gap. the amendment requires "that the General Assembly authorize any increased spending on Medicaid." (Washington Post, June 13, 2014)

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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June 12, 2014

The Virginia GOP revealed tonight that their repeated calls for a "clean" budget were disingenuous at best and an outright deception at worst. Days after engineering the resignation of a State Senator in order to grab control of the upper chamber, Republicans abandoned their oft-cited call for a "clean" budget and instead overtly threatened to torpedo the state budget unless the General Assembly agreed to legislation prohibiting future Medicaid expansion.

"Virginia Republicans finally revelaed today that they've been lying to their constituents for months about their wish for a clean budget," said ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl. "Offered a so-called clean budget without a provision for closing the coverage gap for 400,000 Virginians, Republicans reneged on supporting the budget unless their demands for additional amendments prohibiting Medicaid expansion were met. The GOP has demonstrated tonight that they have absolutely zero interest in engaging in an honest conversation about how to close the coverage gap and help the thousands of Virginia families who are struggling to make ends meet and cover medical bills. Shame on them."

June 12, 2014

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Public News Service reports, "Hundreds are expected to call on Virginia House members to compromise on a Medicaid solution at rallies, vigils and other events beginning today. Virginia legislators are debating whether to accept federal Medicaid funding to extend insurance coverage to up to 400,000 Virginians. Anna Scholl, director of Progress VA, said the idea has strong support in the state, including endorsements from 15 local Chambers of Commerce. She said there are no losers if the state accepts the money."

Progressive Point: Today, many Virginia families don't have health care. Tonight our representatives can ensure more working families get coverage. Expanding health insurance access means saving money, saving lives, and a stronger and healthier Commonwealth for everyone. Across the country, conservative governors and legislatures are closing the health care coverage gap because they know what's best for the people of their states--there is no excuse not to here.

Every working Virginian deserves the same health security offered to citizens in every other state. Speaker Howell and his caucus must move forward to extend health coverage to the low-income Virginians who desperately need it. Families currently without health security will not go away just because conservatives want to leave them behind. True leaders keep working until they find compromise, so our Commonwealth can move forward, and to ensure their constituents have the care they need to get ahead.

Click here to find the closest Virginia Vigil for Health Care to you tonight where you can speak out to close the coverage gap.

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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June 10, 2014

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The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports, "The Richmond City Council voted overwhelmingly Monday to express its support for Medicaid expansion in Virginia, a symbolic gesture that comes as the state budget fight is heating up across the street from City Hall. The council voted 8-0 to approve a resolution urging the General Assembly to 'develop and implement in the Commonwealth of Virginia a plan to provide more Virginians with access to affordable health care coverage and services.'"

Progressive Point: True leaders work to ensure their constituents have the care and opportunities they need to get ahead. Speaker Howell and his conservative cronies consider keeping health coverage from 400,000 low-income Virginians who badly need part of a "clean budget." There is nothing clean about elected officials who offer state jobs as gifts so they can pass the buck on helping vulnerable Virginians.

Our Commonwealth needs leaders who prioritize protecting low-income Virginians. Helping the weakest amongst us makes our communities stronger. Working families across the Commonwealth without the care they need deserve the same health security offered to the elected officials who are supposed to represent them. Every district depends on leaders coming to the table to compromise, but Speaker Howell and his caucus insist on slamming the door.

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

June 9, 2014

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The Washington Post reports, "Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday... The news prompted outrage among Democrats -- and accusations that Republicans were trying to buy the Senate with job offers in order to thwart McAuliffe's proposal to expand health coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians."

Progressive Point: Conservatives have reached a new low in their opposition to expanding badly needed health care for low-income Virginians. Speaker Bill Howell and Del. Terry Kilgore showed they are even willing to use the offer of government jobs as political leverage to prevent closing the coverage gap for 400,000 Virginians.

Virginians support leaders who know how to work across the aisle and get things done. But conservatives are going to any length to crush compromise and prevent closing the health coverage gap for 400,000 Virginians. Offering jobs and judicial nominations should be below any elected official. It's time for Speaker Howell and the House of Delegates to stop the shady political games and come to the table to find a solution that closes the coverage gap.

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

June 9, 2014

ProgressVA executive director Anna Scholl called for an immediate investigation into allegations House Republicans and Delegate and Tobacco Commission Chair Terry Kilgore cut a deal to provide State Senator Philip Puckett a job at the Tobacco Commission and judgeship for his daughter in exchange for his resignation. In a press call with reporters, Scholl stated, "This kind of quid pro quo involving government resources should be taken very seriously, which is why today we're calling for an investigation into this alleged deal, to determine if state resources have been misappropriated or laws broken."

Responding to breaking news that Senator Puckett may now decline to accept the position, Scholl added, "It's absolutely appropriate for Senator Puckett and the Tobacco Commission to reconsider this arrangement. However, Virginians still deserve answers regarding how and when Speaker Howell and Delegate Kilgore offered state jobs to Senator and his family in exchange for political leverage.

"This episode underscores is the lengths to which Speaker Howell and his caucus are apparently willing to go to prevent closing the coverage gap and extending affordable and quality health care to 400,000 Virginians. There are thousands of Virginians out there who are struggling to make ends meet and one of the expenses that is breaking the bank for these families is the cost of health care.  These people work hard every day and closing the coverage gap could really help them get by.  Instead of doing what is right, we have politicians here who would rather potentially break the law to score political points with backroom deals than help their constituents who are most in need.  It's despicable and disgusting and they should be ashamed."

June 6, 2014

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The Virginian-Pilot editorial board opines, "For years, hospitals have received tax credits and payments for providing charity care to poor, uninsured patients. For many hospitals, it amounts to millions of dollars, the difference between a profit and a loss. But now that more people are supposed to have insurance under the Affordable Care Act, those federal subsidies will start to disappear."

Progressive Point: Virginia's hospitals provide care to everyone who needs help, regardless of ability to pay. Conservative's refusal to close the health care coverage gap will force a dire financial strain on hospitals and potentially limit their ability to care for low income Virginians. Richmond politicians must prevent further harm to our hospitals and the 400,000 Virginians still without care by compromising and simply putting families' first.

While our leaders should be going on offense for our health and our future, Virginia's medical centers are having to play defense and considering to cutting services. Richmond conservatives's refusal to compromise on health care is straining too many Virginia families. That strain is now about to spread to the services our hospitals provide to those that need them most. Our leaders cannot allow Virginia hospitals and most the most vulnerable to be the victim of partisan politics.

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

May 30, 2014

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The Washington Post Editorial Board opines, "With Virginia lacking an enacted budget and facing the growing risk of a government shutdown in just over a month, the top Republicans in the House of Delegates, Speaker William J. Howell (Stafford) and Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox (Colonial Heights), requested an urgent meeting the other day with Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D)... Mr. Howell and Mr. Cox had the same old one-note message about Medicaid expansion, which 27 states have now embraced. Their message was: No... Mr. Howell and Mr. Cox have no plan to cover the hundreds of thousands of low-income residents of Virginia who lack health insurance. Their only apparent agenda is to deal a political defeat to Mr. McAuliffe, who ran last year on a promise of expanding Medicaid, and by extension to President Obama."

Progressive Point: Virginians expect our leaders to work together. Speaker Howell and his caucus have rejected compromise after compromise to close the health care coverage gap, recklessly manufacturing a crisis. Speaker Howell's refusal to come to the table shows his willingness to sabotage Virginia's economy and our AAA bond rating in order to continue his political attack on affordable health care.

Speaker Howell would shut down Virginia's government and risk our economic growth rather than work across the aisle to ensure all Virginia families can access affordable, quality health care. Meanwhile, Virginia families are the ones who will suffer from Howell's political games. His refusal to compromise and negotiate are putting our Commonwealth at risk. Virginians overwhelmingly agree our leaders need to come to the table and compromise, but Speaker Howell and his caucus insist on being the Party of No.

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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May 28, 2014

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FierceHealthcare reports the University of Virginia Medical Center's, "continued success hinges on the state expanding Medicaid, [Vice President and CEO Edward] Howell told The Roanoke Times. Without it, the facility may lose $40 million a year in Medicaid expansion funding. If Virginia expands Medicaid before 2017, the hospital can thrive, he said. Otherwise, he said the hospital will have to cut back on services in order to continue to treat uninsured and indigent patients. Cutbacks may include transportation and drug benefits for low-income patients and rolling back its education program."

Progressive Point: The financial pains of failing to close our Commonwealth's health care coverage gap continue to mount and the human cost of doing nothing is far worse. The conservative health care blockade is straining too many Virginia families. That strain will soon spread to the services our medical centers can provide to those that need them most. We, our doctors, and our communities are all focused on our families' well being--our legislators should be doing the same.

Hundreds of thousands of Virginians hurt while politicians refuse to close the Commonwealth's health care coverage gap. While our leaders should be going on offense for our health and our future, Virginia's medical centers are playing defense and planning to cut services because these politicians won't compromise. Moving forward on Medicaid is critical in preventing health care cutbacks tomorrow. Ending this health care blockade is critical for ensuring every Virginian has the security of knowing that when they get sick, they can get quality care and still afford to put food on the table.

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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May 21, 2014

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The Commonwealth Institute reports, 'Virginia ranked second-worst among all states for the number of vulnerable minorities who had to go without health care in the last year because of the high cost, according to a new scorecard from The Commonwealth Fund. Only South Carolina ranked below Virginia on this key barometer of well-being. Lawmakers in Richmond could go a long way toward improving this sorry picture by using federal funds that are available to close the coverage gap and provide more Virginians with access to quality, affordable health care."

Progressive Point: It's long overdue for our leaders in Richmond to put aside politics and work to help all Virginia families get ahead. However, today in our Commonwealth a majority of those with low incomes who could benefit from closing Virginia's health care coverage gap are minorities. Our leaders should be working tirelessly to make a better future for every family still caught in the health care coverage gap, not obsessing over old political fights. Health coverage delayed is health coverage denied.

All Commonwealth families deserve the same health coverage offered in every other state. Every working Virginian, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, creed, age, or income level, needs the security of knowing that when they get sick, they can see a doctor without an enormous bill once they've gotten well. Simply put, all Virginians, just like Americans in every other state, need permanent health security and they need it now.

Get the Facts:

  •  
    • 52% of non-elderly adult Virginians without health insurance below the poverty line are minorities, "despite the fact that minorities only represent 34% of Virginia's population."
  •  
    • Virginia is second only to South Carolina in "the number of vulnerable minorities who had to go without health care in the last year because of the high cost."
  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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May 19, 2014

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The Washington Post Editorial Board opines, "Republicans in Virginia's House of Delegates have blocked hundreds of thousands of poor Virginians from getting health insurance under the Obama administration's Medicaid expansion. At the same time, they've refused to suggest any alternative method by which the needy people in the state might arrange health coverage. Meanwhile, the list of Republican governors around the country who want new federal Medicaid funds -- and the huge benefits they bring for their states -- continues to grow. Richmond's just-say-no crowd, led by House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford), looks increasingly isolated and callous."

Progressive Point: Right now, a handful of conservatives in the House of Delegates are withholding health coverage for hundreds of thousands of Virginians. Their purely political opposition is in its fourth year now, and, without even an alternative plan, is partisanship at its worst. Speaker Howell's conservative crusade against health care comes at dire financial costs to our Commonwealth and at worse costs to working Virginia families without health security.

Across the country, conservative governors and legislatures are closing the health care coverage gap for their constituents - and our families deserve the same here in Virginia. Four years of refusing a health care compromise for Virginians who can't afford it is four years far too long. But right-wing lawmakers, led by Speaker Howell, are continuing to block and mislead on extending Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians. Conservatives in our Commonwealth must put people above politics and learn to value compromise for the good of Virginia now.

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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May 16, 2014

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The Washington Post reports, "It looks as if Indiana is about to join the list of red states signing up for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion. Republican Gov. Mike Pence, after months of discussions with the Obama administration, is offering a new plan Thursday morning to expand coverage to low-income uninsured Hoosiers... About two dozen states still haven't joined the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion, which extends coverage to low-income adults earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level."

Progressive Point: Across the country, conservative governors and legislatures are closing the health care coverage gap because they know what's best for the people of their states. Our families' health shouldn't suffer just because we live in the Commonwealth. Virginians of every income level need the security of knowing that when they get sick, they can see a doctor without an enormous bill once they've gotten well.

It's just plain common sense. Our families deserve the same health security offered to every other state. But conservative lawmakers, led by Speaker Howell, are continuing to block and mislead on extending Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians who need it now. Expanding health coverage to more children and working adults means saving money, saving lives, and a stronger and healthier Commonwealth. Four years of delaying and denying health care to Virginians who can't afford it is four years too long. 

Get the Facts:

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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May 14, 2014

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The Roanoke Times Editorial Board opines, "House Speaker Bill Howell has chosen to crank up the vapor machine with a letter to constituents in his district who are 60-plus years old. He warns that the federal Medicaid expansion money the Senate proposes using to set up Marketplace Virginia is robbing them of Medicare benefits. It is not. And his conjuring up and remixing of this well-worn anti-Obamacare scare tactic is further evidence, should more be needed, that the standoff over accepting billions of federal dollars needed to keep Virginia's hospitals afloat is hardball politics at its most cynical.

Progressive Point: Our families' health shouldn't suffer just because we live in the Commonwealth. Richmond conservatives under Speaker Howell have manufactured a crisis to shut down our government to keep their political fight against closing Virginia's health care coverage gap going. It's just plain common sense - our families deserve the same health security offered to every other state and threatening to shut down our government to keep it from us is wrong.

In other states, even Republican governors are implementing the health law because they know what's best for the people of their states. But conservative lawmakers under Speaker Howell have, for four years now, blocked and found new ways to mislead on extending health coverage to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians who need it. Expanding health coverage to more children and working adults means saving money, saving lives, and a stronger and healthier Commonwealth. Our families cannot afford for health security to take a backseat to political ambitions any longer.

Get the Facts:

  • Howell's letter counsels his district's older demographic that "it is important to remember that Medicaid is different from Medicare. Medicare provides health care coverage to seniors, while Medicaid provides health care coverage to children, low-income parents, and the disabled. Medicaid expansion would cover able-bodied, working adults." Working-poor adults, actually. People who work, perhaps, more hours than he, but in part-time jobs without benefits.

  • Worse than the implied dismissal of the working poor as layabouts, though, is the letter's false assertion that the commonwealth cannot afford Marketplace Virginia "because Obamacare's Medicaid expansion is mostly financed by drastic cuts to Medicare that will hurt Virginia seniors." Nonsense. The Obama administration made billions of dollars in cuts to the future growth of Medicare to extend the life of the Medicare trust fund.

  • It is important, as Howell noted, to understand that Medicare and Medicaid are different. Not in that the recipients of one are worthy, and the other are not, but that the two are separately funded; the federal government does not "raid" one program to pay for the other.

  • Virginia would recover "$692 million in lost coverage gap revenue" for hospitals if Virginia finds a health care compromise. (Roanoke Times, May 5, 2014)

  • Virginia's secretary of health and human resources, William Hazel, reports that Medicaid expansion will produce a savings of $1 billion through 2022. "The estimate represents a swing of more than $1 billion from a Medicaid analysis a year ago, when state health officials estimated a net cost to the state of $137.5 million over the nine-year period. In 2010, the estimated cost of expansion to the state exceeded $2.1 billion over 10 years." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 23, 2013)
  • "As many as 400,000 Virginians could gain coverage through a Medicaid expansion, nearly half the total of Virginia's uninsured... expanding Medicaid is part of the chamber's new 'Blueprint Virginia' plan to boost the state economy, which was introduced at Wednesday's meeting." (Daily Press, November 20, 2013)
  • Expanding Medicaid in Virginia will create up to 33,000 jobs according to an analysis by the Senate Finance Committee. Of the over 400,000 Virginians eligible for coverage, more than 70% "live in households where at least one person holds a full- or part-time job." (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 16, 2012)

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May 8, 2014

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The Virginian-Pilot reports, "Virginia jailers now have to follow state regulations governing the use of restraints on pregnant inmates. The Virginia Board of Corrections approved the regulations in November after more than a year of negotiations between inmate advocates and law enforcement officials. Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed the regulations in March, and they take effect Thursday with the expiration of a final public comment period."

Progressive Point: Protecting the health of a female inmate and her pregnancy is more than just sound public health policy. Stopping unnecessary and inhumane shackling of pregnant women is a moral movement to restore dignity to women and to Virginia. Putting an end to the undue health risks to some of the most vulnerable citizens is a victory for our Commonwealth and conscience.

One of the truest measures of our Commonwealth is in how we treat our most vulnerable Virginians. The previous shackling of pregnant women in our care was both dangerous and inhumane. Excessive and unnecessary restraint during pregnancy increases the chances of accidentally tripping or falling, and harm. Today, Virginia has taken a step forward in protecting a pregnant inmate's dignity and health, and the health and safety of her pregnancy.

Get the Facts:

  • The new regulations that go into effect today permit "pregnant prisoners to bee handcuffed only in front when being transported outside the jail. They cannot be restrained at all during labor and delivery. Exceptions can be made for inmates who are a danger or flight risk. The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia advocated the regulations. Executive director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga says the state ACLU will work with jail officials to ensure compliance." (Virginian-Pilot, May 8, 2014)

  • Via Katherine Greenier, Director of the Patricia M. Arnold Women's Rights Project of the ACLU-VA:

  • Unrestrained movement is especially critical during labor, delivery, and the postpartum recovery. Women often need to move around during labor and recovery, including moving their legs as part of the birthing process, and restraining a pregnant woman can interfere with the medical staff's ability to appropriately assist in childbirth. Prisoners and detainees who are restrained face an increased potential for physical harm from an accidental trip or fall, which can be harmful to the health of the woman and her pregnancy.

  • The vast majority of female prisoners in Virginia are non-violent offenders who pose a low security risk, particularly during labor and postpartum recovery. There are no documented instances of women in labor or during delivery escaping or causing harm to themselves, security guards or medical staff.

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