Members of the Republican Caucus held a press conference to announce legislative initiatives that would make access to health care more affordable.
Speaker Bill Howell (R-28) was joined by Delegate Sam Nixon (R-27), Delegate Phil Hamilton (R-93) and Delegate Danny Marshall (R-14) to talk about legislation that has been introduced in the 2009 General Assembly session to make health care more accessible. Also joining the members of caucus was Julia Hammond, State Director of the NFIB.
Delegate Hamilton spoke about House Bill 1598 which changes the criteria to be considered by the Commissioner of Health when reviewing Certificate of Public Need (COPN) applications by owners and sponsors of identified medical care facility projects.
“The COPN bill represents significant legislative reform to what has been a controversial health care topic over the past 20 years,” commented Delegate Hamilton, Chairman of the House Health, Welfare & Institutions Committee. “Through the cooperative and collaborative work of the Administration, the Committee and the healthcare provider network, consensus on a framework for addressing the COPN issue has at long last been developed.”
Delegate Marshall spoke about House Bill 2024, which would give businesses with 50 or fewer employees the ability to offer their workers health insurance coverage that does not include some or all of the costly mandates currently required, allowing consumers to tailor a plan that bests fits their needs and pocketbooks.
“Small businesses desperately want to be able to offer health insurance to their workers, but cannot afford the increasing costs in the current economic climate,” noted Delegate Danny Marshall, a member of the House Commerce and Labor Committee. “My legislation will make it easier for employees to receive access to needed health care. With over 1 million uninsured Virginians, this practical solution would help bring coverage to many families at an affordable cost to their small business employers.”
Delegate Nixon spoke about his legislation that would direct the Informatin Technology Investment Board to develop software for health-care technology.
“Bringing best practices to health information technology systems improves the delivery of care, reduces costs and cuts down on unnecessary errors that can cost lives,” said Delegate Nixon, Vice-Chairman of the House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee and a member of the House Science & Technology Committee. “Reaching out and working across party lines and with the Administration, especially the Secretary of Technology, House Republicans are committed to developing practical solutions to bring quality health care to Virginians.”
Julia Hammond from the NFIB was able to provide real world need for these measures to provide more access to health care to small businesses throughout Virginia.
Health insurance costs have risen 129% since 1999, and 84% since 2001, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). These huge cost increases have forced small business owners to terminate their health plans while preventing others from instituting any in the first place. These dramatic increases, in part, can be attributed to mandated benefits requirements, which increase the cost of health insurance by as much as 45% in some markets. Delegate Danny Marshall’s legislation, House Bill 2024, would give businesses with 50 or fewer employees the ability to offer their workers health insurance coverage that does not include some or all of the costly mandates currently required, allowing consumers to tailor a plan that bests fits their needs and pocketbooks.