Health Reform: Recommendations from the Commonwealth of Virginia

As the nation waits to hear the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling over the Affordable Care Act (ACA), two reports from the Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council (VHRI) reveal reforms that would be implemented in Virginia should the Court decide to uphold the health care law.

Governor Robert F. McDonnell appointed the VHRI Council in August 2010 and charged its members with making recommendations for how to improve access to affordable health care for every Virginian, while also “allowing for more effective and efficient delivery of high quality health care at lower cost.”  Four months later, the Council—made up of health, business, and civic leaders and led by Health and Human Resources Secretary William Hazel—released its 2010 report.  The report’s 28 recommendations describe changes in Medicaid reform, service delivery, payment reform, health information technology, and other “specific and evidence-based steps that would move Virginia toward the vision of healthier people, healthier communities, a better health care system, and a stronger economy.”
 
Last November, the VHRI Council issued a 2011 report outlining what could be the next major step in Virginia’s implementation of health reform:  plans for setting up and governing the Virginia health benefit exchange.  Under the ACA, all states are required to put plans in place for a state-run health exchange by January 2013. The goal of a health exchange is to expand health insurance access to citizens and small businesses by creating a more competitive health insurance market within the state.
 
The VHRI Council continues to host public meetings about various aspects of reform, including a May 3 meeting to discuss a new analysis prepared for the Advisory Council about whether Virginia’s health plans include essential health benefits required under the ACA and the impact that adding previously non-covered benefits could have on insurance premiums.  
 
The Supreme Court’s decision about the constitutionality of the ACA is expected in June. 
 
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