Virginians want more from General Assembly on health policy

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Health care
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More than nine in ten Virginians want state officials to share more information with the public about health insurance benefits and finances.

This according to a new survey conducted by McLaughlin & Associates and commissioned by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association that includes questions on several health care policy issues over which the Virginia General Assembly has jurisdiction.

Two-thirds (66%) support eliminating a state policy that financially penalizes doctors and hospitals for providing emergency care to Medicaid patients. Strong majorities of Virginia voters (86%) also support state funding to address health care workforce shortages, and 66% favor public investments to fund pilot programs. innovative and alternative models of care to improve behavioral health care treatment services available to Virginians.

Key survey results

Payer Policy Issues

As employers and households continue to grapple with rising insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, 91% support the concept of legislation advance to the General Assembly that would require the Commonwealth to provide more financial transparency to the public on insurance industry profits, medical expenses, administrative costs, medical loss ratios and other measures.

Several states, including California, Missouri, New York and Washington, have already established standards to promote health insurance transparency and make information accessible to consumers.

Two-thirds of voters (66%) support eliminating a harmful policy that penalizes health care providers who serve Medicaid patients. Under the policy, which is embedded in bills lawmakers are now considering in the next two-year state budget, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services has reduced provider reimbursements to about $15. when a Medicaid patient seeks care in a hospital emergency department if DMAS retroactively decides the visit was not a true medical emergency.

These decisions can apply to the treatment of hundreds of serious diseases, including diabetes, heart failure and pneumonia. This state policy is inconsistent with the guidelines of the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, it contradicts federal law that requires health care providers to provide emergency care to anyone who receives it. request, and it conflicts with the provisions of the Virginia Medicaid managed care contract that prohibits retroactivity. claim denials for emergency care.

Investments in the health workforce

Eighty-six percent support investments from the state budget to fund scholarships and loan programs for training future nurses, psychiatric professionals, and other health workforce development initiatives.

Current state budget legislation provides funding for many of these items at a time when pre-pandemic health worker shortages have only worsened. A recent analysis found that Virginia has more than 9,000 permanent nursing jobs, 1,100 of which have become open since August 2021. Meanwhile, a Becker Hospital Examination Rating Federal data shows that 18% of Virginia hospitals recently faced critical staffing shortages.

Behavioral health

To help strengthen behavioral health treatment services for Virginians, 66% support targeted investments in innovative programs and alternative models of care, rather than approaches that would primarily invest taxpayer funds in the behavioral health system managed by the state.

The need for improved treatment options is reflected in the increased demand for hospital-based mental health and addictions services seen during the pandemic, and when significant shares of Americans and Virginians tell them mental health suffered. The growth in demand for treatment services has put a strain on public and private institutions which have experienced serious staffing problems.

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