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Health & Wellness

Every child and family should have access to affordable and quality health coverage. However, many barriers persist in increasing access to health care for children. According to The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, roughly 96,500 (4.9%) children in Virginia do not have health coverage, according to 2019 Census data, and there are disproportionate differences in coverage for an individual due to their immigration status or family economic. While Virginia continues to make some improvements, the state still ranks 25th in the nation for the percentage of children who lack health insurance. Voices strongly supports closing the health care coverage gap for all Virginians through a plan that will ensure that families and children do not fall through the cracks.

In addition, we believe that Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) are interrelated social an economic factor that influence health. According to the Virginia Department of Health, SDOH include, but are not limited to: socioeconomic status, discrimination, housing, physical environment, food security, child development, culture, social support, healthcare services, transportation, working conditions, and participation in democracy.

How Voices Works:

SDOH are complex, intersectional, and often overlap with social structures and economic systems, such as social and physical environment, access to health services, and structural and societal factors that influence health inequities. SDOH are influenced and shaped by the distribution of wealth, resources, and power. Therefore, when we analyze policy choices and decisions, we must assess them for barriers to overall health and wellness to achieve the highest level of health for Virginia’s children, young people, families, and communities.

  1. We must address inequalities in health and healthcare that are systemic, unfair, or unjust.
  2. We must disaggregate data and expose health disparities influenced by inequality, such as disability, gender, race or ethnicity, geography, education, income, or other social influences.
  3. We must mitigate and further, eliminate, barriers to equality so that all young people and communities have access to leading long, healthy, and prosperous lives.

Voices for Virginia’s Children is working on a variety of issues to improve child health and well-being, including healthcare access, food access and nutrition, community health, community wealth, and racial truth and reconciliation.

2022 Health & Wellness Legislative Priorities:

Virginia and the nation face dual pandemics – COVID-19 and racism as a public health crisis. We must create new and improved practices to improve health outcomes. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of access to health insurance, the need to enroll more children and parents, and allowing families to keep their Medicaid/FAMIS coverage through the public health emergency. The expanded health insurance safety net for children, pregnant women, and adult caregivers has enabled an additional 116,000 children to enroll in health insurance coverage during the pandemic.

However, access to health care does not end with having insurance. Equitable access to health care includes accessible health care services in communities. It includes health care that promotes the long-term improvement of health outcomes and environments in which patients are treated with dignity and respect, and given culturally appropriate care, regardless of their race or ethnicity.

Health Care Access Priorities 

  1. Support “Cover All Kids” proposals to extend health insurance to children who may lose coverage at the end of the public heath emergency and to expand coverage to undocumented children. 
  2. Policy changes to align with federal continuous eligibility processes that will allow children enrolled in Medicaid/FAMIS to keep coverage without time-consuming and confusing redetermination processes. 
  3. Implicit bias training for medical professionals in alignment with PUSH Coalition (Virginia Interfaith Center)

Bill(s) We Support:

Comprehensive children’s health care coverage program| HB 1012| Delegate Tran| Directs  the Department of Medical Assistance Services to establish a program to provide state-funded comprehensive health care coverage for individuals in the Commonwealth who are under 19 years of age, are not covered under a group health plan or health insurance coverage, and but for their immigration status would be eligible for medical assistance services through the Commonwealth’s program of medical assistance services. The bill also requires all program information is made available in a manner that is accessible to individuals with limited English proficiency through the provision of language access services free of charge, and ensures information obtained by the program remains confidential and is not disclosed for any purpose not related to the administration of the program or any purpose related to civil immigration enforcement unless the subject of the information consents to such disclosure or the requesting agency presents a valid judicial order, subpoena, or warrant.  There is another version of this legislation in the Senate, SB 484|Senator McClellan. 

  •  Status: HB 1012 – laid on the table.  
  • Status: SB 484- carried over to 2023. 

Joint Commission on Health Care Study of Benefits of Hospitals, Health Systems, and other Providers addressing the health-related social needs of Virginians| HJ 5| Delegate Faris| Directs the Joint Commission on Health Care to study the benefits of hospitals, health systems, and other providers in addressing the health-related social needs of Virginians. The study shall identify opportunities for policy making to make health care in Virginia more affordable and effective through innovations in care coordination, workforce development, payment options, and improved data collection.  

  • Status: Recommended laying on the table.  

Joint Commission on Health Care Study of Effects of Gun Violence on Communities| HJ 73| Delegate Price| Directs the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study the social, physical, emotional, and economic effects of gun violence on communities across the Commonwealth.  

  • Status: Left in rules committee. 

Public hospital Medical Debt Collection Practices| SB 245| Senator Hashmi| Requires the University of Virginia Medical Center and the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority to make payment plans available to each person who incurs a debt related to medical treatment. The bill requires that payment plans be provided in writing and cap monthly payments at no more than five percent of the person’s household income, provides that the first payment under the plan is not due until at least 90 days after the date on which treatment was provided or the date on which the person discharged, and provides that a person who has made at least 10 payments pursuant to the payment plan in a 12-month period shall be deemed to be in compliance with the payment plan. The bill also requires the Medical Center and Authority to make information available in writing in languages other than English spoken in the service area and via oral translation service for other languages amongst other requirements.  

  •  Status: Passed Senate Ed & Health. 

Medicaid Program Information Accessibility | HB 987| Delegate Tran | Directs the Board of Medical Assistance Services to ensure that all program information defined in the bill is made available in a manner that is accessible to individuals with limited English proficiency through language access services, including oral interpretation and written translations, and auxiliary aids services for individuals with disabilities as a reasonable step to providing meaningful access to health care coverage. 

  • Status: Assigned to Senate Committee on Education; Health Subcommittee 

 Department of Health Social Determinants of Health Outcomes| HB 229| Delegate Coyner| Directs the Department of Health to collect and analyze information regarding social determinants of health, defined in the bill, and their impact on health risks and health outcomes of residents of the Commonwealth, and to make information regarding social determinants of health, their impact on health, and strategies for addressing social determinants of health to improve health outcomes available to the public on its website.  

  • Status: Referred to Senate Finance & Appropriations. 

Budget Amendment (s) We Support: 

Comprehensive Children’s Health Care Coverage Program| Item 305 #1s | Senator McClellan| Out of this appropriation, $14,969,696 the first year and $19,051,542 the second year from the general fund is provided to establish a state-funded health coverage program for children under 19 years of age who are uninsured and would qualify for Medicaid or FAMIS except for their immigration status, consistent with Senate Bill 484 of the 2022 General Assembly Session. This amendment includes $15.0 million GF in FY 2023 and $19.1 million in FY 2024 pursuant to the passage of Senate Bill 484 which would create a state-funded comprehensive health care coverage program for individuals in Virginia who are under 19 years of age, are not covered under a group health plan or health insurance coverage, and but for their immigration status would be eligible for Virginia’s Medicaid or FAMIS program. 

  • Status: This budget amendment was not included in the House or Senate budget, but the good news is, we were able to gain bipartisan support around the issue. It will be reconsidered in the 2023 General Assembly Session. 

Comprehensive Children’s Health Care Coverage Program | Item 305 #1h | Delegate Tran| Out of this appropriation, $14,494,696 the first year and $19,051,542 the second year from the general fund is provided to establish a state-funded health coverage program for children under 19 years of age who are uninsured and would qualify for Medicaid or FAMIS except for their immigration status, consistent with the provisions of House Bill 1012 of the 2022 General Assembly Session. This amendment includes $14.4 million from the general fund in fiscal year 2023 and $19.1 million from the general fund in fiscal year 2024 pursuant to the passage of House Bill 1012 which would create a state-funded comprehensive health care coverage program for individuals in Virginia who are under 19 years of age, are not covered under a group health plan or health insurance coverage, and but for their immigration status would be eligible for Virginia’s Medicaid or FAMIS program. 

  • Status: This budget amendment was not included in the House or Senate budget, but the good news is, we were able to gain bipartisan support around the issue. It will be reconsidered in the 2023 General Assembly Session. 

Develop Medicaid Value Based Purchasing Program for Primary Care Providers | Item 304 #19h| Delegate Coyner| The Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) shall work with the appropriate primary care stakeholders and Medicaid managed care organizations to develop a unified, value-based purchasing (VBP) program for primary care providers (PCP) that includes enhanced funding for PCPs that meet or exceed performance and/or improvement thresholds as developed, reported, and measured by DMAS in cooperation with participating providers. This amendment adds $18.9 million the first year and $45.2 million the second year from the general fund and $20.4 million from the nongeneral fund the first year and $64.3 million from the nongeneral fund the second year from matching federal Medicaid funds and other nongeneral funds to implement a reimbursement increase for primary care providers to 100% of the federal fiscal year 2021 Medicare equivalent and to implement a value-based purchasing program. 

  • Status: This budget amendment was not included in the House or Senate budget. 

Governor’s Budget Item(s):  

Medicaid & FAMIS Copayments: Eliminates remaining copayment requirements for children in the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security managed care program and for adults in fee for service Medicaid.  This will go into effect April 1, 2022 or upon expiration of the federal public health emergency related to COVID-19 or whichever is earlier, $2.5M the first year and $2.4M the second year.   

Medicaid Reimbursement Rates for Primary Care Services: Increases Medicaid & FAMIS rates for physician PCP services, excluding services emergency departments, to 80 percent of the federal FY 2021 Medicare equivalent, $38.3M the first year and $43.7M the second year.   

Workforce Incentives: Provides funds to allow Virginia to draw down its entire federal share for the State Loan Repayment Program. The federal funding has a 1:1 match requirement, this would allow VDH to draw down a total of $1.5 million in federal funds, 2.2M for the first year and 2.2M the second year.  

Read our full 2022 Health & Wellness Policy Agenda.

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2022 Maternal & Infant Health Legislative Priorities:

Virginia has made significant progress in supporting policies to address disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes by improving access to health insurance for more pregnant women and creating a Medicaid-funded doula benefit. However, given the significant disparities that still exist in maternal and infant health for Black mothers and their children, more work is needed.

Maternal Health Priorities

  1. Ensure the full implementation of maternal health insurance coverage policy changes, including FAMIS prenatal coverage implemented in July 2021 as well as the 12-month postpartum coverage and doula benefit planned for spring 2022.
  2. Expand access to home visiting services for pregnant women and new moms by creating a Medicaid-funded benefit.
  3. Establish local pilots for “Maternal Health Hubs” of community-based, collaborative models focused on supporting pregnant women with their financial, health, and mental health concerns.
  4. Establish an interagency Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team to evaluate health outcomes for pregnant women and newborns.

Read our full 2022 Maternal & Infant Health Policy Agenda.

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Bill(s) We Support: 

Board of Medicine; implicit bias and cultural competency| SB 456| Senator Locke| Requires all practitioners licensed by the Board of Medicine to complete two hours of continuing education in each biennium on topics related to implicit bias and cultural competency. 

  • Status: Carried over to 2023 to continue bill in study. 

Implicit Bias and Cultural Competency| HB 1105| Delegate Delores McQuinn| Requires all practitioners licensed by the Board of Medicine to complete two hours of continuing education in each biennium on topics related to implicit bias and cultural competency.  

  • Status: Carried over to 2023 to continue bill in study. 

Perinatal Health Care Providers Implicit Bias Training| HB 538| Delegate Clark & Senator Lucas| Requires the Board of Health to amend its regulations to require that each hospital develop and implement policies requiring all perinatal health care providers to complete an in-person and interactive training on implicit bias. 

  • Status: Carried over to 2023 to continue bill in study. 

Health insurance; coverage for donated human breast milk|SB 334 Senator Barker| Requires health insurers, corporations providing health care coverage subscription contracts, and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage for expenses incurred in the provision of pasteurized donated human breast milk. The requirement applies if the covered person is an infant under the age of six months, the milk is obtained from a human milk bank that meets quality guidelines established by the Department of Health, and a licensed medical practitioner has issued an order for an infant who satisfies certain criteria. The measure applies to policies, contracts, and plans delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed on or after January 1, 2023. The measure also requires the state plan for medical assistance services to include a provision for payment of medical assistance services incurred in the provision of pasteurized donated human breast milk. This bill is a recommendation of the Health Insurance Reform Commission. 

  • Status: Referred to House Committee on Commerce and Energy. 

Budget Amendment (s) We Support: 

Home Visiting Evidenced Based Research| Item 295 #8s| This amendment provides $1.8 million each year from the general fund for Families Forward Virginia to conduct randomized controlled trials, which is required for the Children’s Health Investment Program (CHIP) home-visiting programs to receive the designation of an evidence-based model. This will allow CHIP programs in the Commonwealth to diversify their funding sources and be eligible for more federal funding. It will also offer state agencies another evidence-based model, founded and managed in Virginia, to support their achievement of state goals for family self-sufficiency and maternal and child health. 

  • Status: This budget amendment was not included in the House or Senate budget.

Fetal Infant Mortality Review Team| Item 289 #3h| Delegate Sickles| This amendment adds $1.0 million each year from the general fund to establish a permanent Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team to provide needed statistics and data on rates of mortality and trends to identify and address Virginia’s infant mortality rate. Chapter 164, 2021 Acts of Assembly, directed the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of the Department of Health to convene a work group to develop a plan for establishing a Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team. 

  • Status: This budget amendment was not included in the House or Senate budget.

Governor’s Budget Item(s):  

Obstetrics & Gynecology Services: Increases Medicaid reimbursement rates for obstetrics and gynecology services: Increases the Medicaid reimbursement rate for obstetrics and gynecology services by 15 percent, $10.9M provided the first year and 10.9M provided the second year.   

Continuous Medicaid & FAMIS Eligibility for Pregnant & Postpartum Women: Clarifies current budget language to ensure that Virginia meets federal requirements to provide continuous coverage to enrollees for the duration of pregnancy through 12 months postpartum.  

2022 Food and Nutrition Access Legislative Priorities:

Children can learn and thrive when they are fed and have access to healthy and nutritious foods. While significant efforts to improve food security have been in place during the pandemic – including increased access to SNAP, Pandemic EBT and universal school meals – many children in Virginia lack access to healthy and affordable meals. Policy solutions must include increasing economic access to healthy and nutritious foods by investing in retail infrastructures and programmatic initiatives to combat food deserts.

Food & Nutrition Access Priorities

  1. Fund Produce Rx Program to provide Medicaid reimbursement for healthy foods.
  2. Increase support for the Virginia Food Access Investment Program Fund
  3. Support the Virginia Fresh Match Program

Read our full 2022 Food and Nutrition Policy Agenda.

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Bill(s) We Support:  

Virginia Produce RX Program| HB 1106| Delegate McQuinn| The Produce Rx program will provide fresh, locally grown produce alongside healthcare and nutrition counseling to empower patients to overcome barriers to the consumption of fruits and vegetables. The program will allow medical professionals in Virginia to prescribe fresh fruit and vegetables to patients experiencing diet-related chronic illnesses, including diabetes, pre-diabetes, and high blood pressure and food insecurity. Support the Produce RX Pilot Program to increase healthy and nutritious food consumption for individuals with diagnosed chronic disease from a licensed Doctor of Medicine, osteopathy and podiatry, a licensed nurse practitioner, licensed physician assistant, or registered dietitian nutritionist has deemed appropriate for a benefit through a prescription and/or individuals who qualify for SNAP, Medicaid, or TANF.    

  • Status: Laid on the table in the House Health, Welfare, Institutions committee. 

Public institutions of higher education; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Notice to students; SNAP Benefits | HB 582| Delegate Roem| Requires each public institution of higher education to ensure that all students have access to accurate information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), including eligibility and how to apply. The bill also directs each institution to advertise the application and process for applying for SNAP prominently on the institution’s website, in orientation materials that are distributed to each new student, in at least one campus-wide email per academic year to all students at such institution, and through other means.  

  • Status: Referred to House Appropriations Committee.

School Breakfast Program and National School Lunch Program; processing of applications| HB 587| Delegate Roem| Requires each public elementary or secondary school to process each web-based or paper-based application for participation in the School Breakfast Program or the National School Lunch Program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture within five working days after the date of receipt of the application. 

  • Status: Passed the House and Senate Education and Health with the first constitutional reading dispensed. 

Budget Amendment(s) We Support:  

Virginia Fresh Match Program| Item 96 #2h| Delegate McQuinn| VDACS| Out of the appropriation in this item, $1,000,000 the first year and $1,000,000 the second year from the general fund to support the Virginia Fresh Match Program. This amendment provides $1.0 million from the general fund each year to support the Virginia Fresh Match program, which provides support to increase nutrition access through farmers markets and community food retailers. The additional funds would be used to enhance the buying power of the SNAP recipients for fruits and vegetables through the Virginia Fresh Match nutrition incentive program. 

  • Status: There was $2M included in the Senate budget. A budget amendments was not adopted in the House. There is opportunity to try to reconcile the budget in the House. Visit our take action page.  

Virginia Fresh Match| Item 96 #1s| Senator McClellan| VDACS| This amendment provides $1.0 million GF each year to support Virginia-grown agriculture and increase nutrition access through farmer’s markets and community food retailers. The requested funds will be utilized to enhance the buying power of the supplemental nutrition assistance program participants for fruits and vegetables through the Virginia Fresh Match Nutrition Incentive Program.  

  • Status: There was $2M included in the Senate budget. A budget amendments was not adopted in the House. There is opportunity to try to reconcile the budget in the House. Visit our take action page.  

Virginia Fresh Match| Item 96 #1h| Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn| VDACS| This amendment provides $1.0 million from the general fund each year to support the Virginia Fresh Match program, which provides support to increase nutrition access through farmers markets and community food retailers. The additional funds would be used to enhance the buying power of the SNAP recipients for fruits and vegetables through the Virginia Fresh Match nutrition incentive program. 

  • Status: There was $2M included in the Senate budget. A budget amendments was not adopted in the House. There is opportunity to try to reconcile the budget in the House. Visit our take action page.  

Virginia Food Access Investment Program| Item 98 #9h| Delegate McQuinn| VDACS| Out of the amounts in this item, $1,000,000 the first year and $1,000,000 the second year from the general fund is provided for the Virginia Food Access Investment Program. This amendment provides an $1.0 million from the general fund per year for the Virginia Food Access Investment Program. The program provides loans or grants to assist grocers, farmers markets, and other retailers in high-need areas to expand or commence the operations of their facilities. 

  • Status: The House and Senate version of the budget did not adopt the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF). While difficult, there is an opportunity to still negotiate the inclusion of VFAIF in the final budget. Visit our take action page. 

Produce RX| Item 341 #6h| Delegate McQuinn| VDSS| This amendment provides $855,000 the first year and $844,100 the second year from the general fund to implement the Produce Rx incentive program. Produce prescriptions are used to improve health outcomes, reduce food insecurity, and decrease long-term health care costs. The produce prescriptions are redeemed for produce at food retailers, community stores, and/or farmers’ markets. 

  • Status: The House and Senate version of the budget did not adopt the Virginia Produce RX program funding. The coalition may pursue a language only amendment to make specific policy suggestions around program eligibility and implementation next year.  

Produce RX | Item 340 #2s| Senator McClellan| VDSS| This amendment provides $855,000 the first year and $844,100 the second year from the general for the fiscal impact of legislation to to create a ProduceRx incentive program. The program will be housed in the Department of Social Services in conjunction with the Department of Medical Assistance Services. Produce prescription programs are used to improve health outcomes, reduce food insecurity, and decrease long-term health care costs. The prescriptions will be redeemed for produce at food retailers, community stores, and farmer’s markets 

  • Status: The House and Senate version of the budget did not adopt the Virginia Produce RX program funding. The coalition may pursue a language only amendment to make specific policy suggestions around program eligibility and implementation next year.  

Grocery Investment Act Grants| Item 98 #2s| VDACS| Senator McClellan| Out of the amounts in this item, $1,000,000 the first year and $1,000,000 the second year from the general fund is provided for the Department to operate the Virginia Food Access Investment Program for grants or loans pursuant to § 36-156.4,et. seq., Code of Virginia. This amendment continues level funding for the Virginia Food Access Investment fund. The fund provides a financing package with loans and grants to help grocers, farmer’s markets, and other retailers in high-need areas overcome capital shortfalls to start-up or expand their operations. 

  • Status: The House and Senate version of the budget did not adopt the Virginia Food Access Investment Fund (VFAIF). While difficult, there is an opportunity to still negotiate the inclusion of VFAIF in the final budget. Visit our take action page. 

Governor’s Budget Item(s):  

Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program| Continues the Virginia Agriculture Food Assistance Program established to expand the capacity of Virginia’s network of food providers to accept, store, and distribute food products. There is $11M allotted in the first year to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.   


2021 Health & Wellness Policy Agenda:

Read our full 2021 Healthcare Access Policy Agenda.

Resources: 

For more information about Medicaid/FAMIS programs and eligibility requirements, or help with enrollment, read the CHIP fact sheet.

Go to the CoverVA website. 

View our full Legislative Archive.