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Chronological Archives

Legislative Updates

April 14, 2014


In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: House Approves Fiscal 2015 Budget 
■ Arne Duncan Discusses Proposed College Ratings System 
■ Kathleen Sebelius Announces Resignation 
■ Center on Transition Innovations 
■ VCU’s ASPiRE Recognized for Volunteerism and Community Service 
■ Children’s Services: MACPAC March 2014 Report to Congress 
■ MIRC Meeting Update 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: House Approves Fiscal 2015 Budget 

The House approved a fiscal 2015 budget on April 10th that would cut federal spending by $5 trillion and significantly revamp social welfare programs. The measure, which cleared the House 219-205, is essentially a political document that has no chance of being passed in the Democratic-controlled Senate. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) is expected to relinquish his gavel at the end of this Congress and his final budget is seen as more of an outline of Republican priorities, including the repeal of Obamacare. 

The budget resolution relied entirely on Republican support to pass through the House. Still, 12 Republicans opposed the package, up from 10 GOP lawmakers who voted against the Ryan budget last year. As expected, no Democrats offered their support to the Republican plan. 

A large portion of the savings Ryan’s budget projects comes from reducing health care coverage and subsidies under Obamacare. An additional $700 billion-plus in savings comes from cutting Medicaid and other health care programs, while hundreds of billions in additional cuts come from food stamps, education and farm programs. Ryan would cut Obamacare benefits but retain its tax increases and reductions in payments to providers. It also would turn Medicare into a voucher program — Republicans call it “premium support” — for those who enroll in the program beginning in 2024. 

There is no practical reason for Congress to pass another budget right now. Ryan brokered a deal last year with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Washington) that sets spending levels through next year. Given that framework, Senate Democrats are not planning on proposing a budget of their own this year. 

Arne Duncan Discusses Proposed College Ratings System 

On Tuesday, April 8th, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan defended the Obama administration's proposed college ratings system while testifying before the House appropriations subcommittee that oversees the department's budget. Duncan explained that the college ratings system was needed to provide students with better information and to provide more accountability for taxpayer money. The department's 2015 fiscal year budget request seeks $10 million to help develop the ratings system. Duncan reiterated that the administration's goal in creating a ratings system is to make sure that federal student aid money is well-spent. 

To view the testimony, visit http://appropriations.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=374542

Kathleen Sebelius Announces Resignation 

Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, is resigning. A former governor of Kansas, Sebelius has been one of President Obama's longest-serving Cabinet officials and his only HHS secretary. She was instrumental in shepherding the health care law through Congress in 2010 and implementing its initial components. President Obama will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to succeed Sebelius. Burwell was unanimously confirmed by the Senate for current post. She joined the Obama administration last year and held several White House and Treasury posts during President Bill Clinton's administration. Between her stints in the executive branch, Burwell served as president of Wal-Mart's charitable arm and head of the global development program at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Center on Transition Innovations 

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and Virginia Commonwealth University have announced the establishment of the Center on Transition Innovations (CTI). The new center is a collaborative venture of VDOE and the VCU School of Education’s Rehabilitation Research and Training Center (RRTC). It will serve as a statewide resource to support school divisions, service providers, students with disabilities and their families as they work together to facilitate successful transitions for students with disabilities after they leave school. CTI, which was funded through a $2 million VDOE special education and student services start-up grant, will assist stakeholders in identifying career goals, encouraging skill building so individuals can live as independently as possible in their communities and increasing inclusive postsecondary competitive employment, education, and training opportunities. Named to lead CTI are VCU faculty members Paul Wehman as principal investigator and Elizabeth Getzel as director. They will work with VDOE and other state agencies. Through its website, CTI will provide information on available resources including online courses, webcasts, videos, newsletters, fact sheets and topical papers. CTI will also be involved in transition-related research and transition program development. 

For more information, visit http://www.centerontransition.org/

VCU’s ASPiRE Recognized for Volunteerism and Community Service 

During an awards ceremony held at the Governor’s Mansion on April 10th, Governor McAuliffe announced the seven winners of the 2014 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards including, Virginia Commonwealth University’s ASPiRE (Academic Scholars Program in Real Environments) program. These awards recognize individuals and organizations for their extraordinary volunteer efforts that make an impact on the lives of citizens throughout the Commonwealth.  VCU’s ASPiRE program enrolls undergraduates who commit to complete nine hours of academic coursework and at least 100 hours of off-campus service for at least four semesters. Between August and December 2013 alone, ASPiRE students contributed more than 7,500 service hours to the Richmond community. 

Children’s Services:  MACPAC March 2014 Report to Congress 

Children’s Hospital Association has developed a detailed summary of the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission’s (MACPAC) March 2014 Report to Congress. The report begins a discussion on the future of CHIP and highlights the short-term issues for children’s coverage under the program. The report also discusses the role of supplemental payments in Medicaid and shares the findings of a MACPAC staff analysis of Medicaid payments in five states. In addition, the report recommends that Congress and the administration should eliminate CHIP waiting periods, eliminate premiums in CHIP for children below 150 percent of the federal poverty level and collect provider level data on non-DSH supplemental payments to increase transparency. 

To view the summary, visit http://www.childrenshospitals.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home3&ContentID=70172&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm

MIRC Meeting Update 

The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) held a meeting on Monday, April 7th. Topics discussed during the meeting included an update on the status of Medicaid reforms and explanation of reform Savings included in 2014-16 Biennial budgets; explanation of plans to provide access to health care for low-income Virginians including timeline for implementation; and an explanation of the proposed Medicaid audit, among other topics. 

To access the presentations, visit http://mirc.virginia.gov/

 

April 7, 2014

 

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: House GOP Fiscal 2015 Budget Proposal 
■ Meeting the Needs of Contemporary Students 
■ Public Hearing on Governor McAuliffe’s Proposed Budget 
■ Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association Names New President 
■ President Rao Meets with Federal Lawmakers 
■ Children’s Services: “Patch” Includes Victories for Children’s Health 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: House GOP Fiscal 2015 Budget Proposal 

House Republicans have offered their alternative to President Obama’s fiscal-2015 budget, proposing deep cuts in nondefense programs, including many of interest to higher education. 

The spending blueprint, which aims to balance the budget in 10 years, would cut overall spending by $5.1-trillion over the next decade. While it stands no chance of passage in the Democratic-led Senate, the document reveals which programs the party will single out for cuts in the coming appropriations season. 

Under the plan, which covers the fiscal year that begins on October 1, the maximum Pell Grant would be frozen at its current level for 10 years and would be financed with discretionary dollars only, rather than the current combination of mandatory and discretionary money. The plan would also roll back recent expansions of the program; eliminate eligibility for less-than-half-time students, and end administrative payments to participating colleges. It suggests adding a maximum-income cap for students to receive a Pell Grant, though it does not propose a particular level. The proposal would refocus research spending on basic research, while responsibly paring back applied and commercial research and development, and would end student-loan interest subsidies for undergraduates while they are enrolled. 

The House Budget Committee is expected to debate the bill on Wednesday. The chair of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Patty Murray (Washington), has already announced that her panel will not offer a 2015 budget plan because lawmakers have already set spending levels for the coming year, under a two-year budget deal reached late last year. That chamber will not take up the House Republican proposal, either. 

Meeting the Needs of Contemporary Students 

The House Education and the Workforce Committee recently held a hearing entitled, “Keeping College within Reach: Meeting the Needs of Contemporary Students.” The hearing focused on changes in student demographics and highlighted the unique needs of “non-traditional” or contemporary students; men and women over the age of 25 (often with families or full-time jobs) who have chosen to return to school in an effort to quickly learn new skills that will help them compete for in-demand jobs. As a result, states, institutions, and private entities are working to modernize their educational practices through prior learning assessments, online coursework, or flexible articulation agreements to better serve this new generation of students.   

To learn more about the hearing and to watch an archived webcast, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=374799

Public Hearing on Governor McAuliffe’s Proposed Budget 

On April 1, the Senate Finance Committee held a public hearing on Governor McAuliffe’s proposed budget. The governor and Democratic lawmakers want a budget that expands Medicaid eligibility. The GOP-controlled House opposes Medicaid expansion. More than 100 people signed up to speak at the hearing. Most of the speakers invited by the Senate panel,expressed support for Medicaid expansion while a handful did not. Opponents argued that a large scale expansion will be too costly and the federal government’s promises of future payment cannot be guaranteed. 

Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association Names New President 

The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) Board of Directors have announced the appointment of Sean Connaughton as its third President of the 88-year old Association. Connaughton most recently served as Virginia Secretary of Transportation under Governor Bob McDonnell. He will succeed Larry Sartoris, who will be retiring after 26 years at the helm of VHHA and 35 years in total with the Association. 

President Rao Meets with Federal Lawmakers 

On April 2, President Rao traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with lawmakers and to discuss matters of importance to the university. Dr. Rao met with majority Leader Eric Cantor and Representatives Rob Wittman and Bobby Scott. He also met with senior staff in the offices of Senator Mark Warner and Representative John Kline. 

Children’s Services:  “Patch” Includes Victories for Children’s Health 

The temporary one-year “patch” to the Medicare physician payment formula included multiple victories for children’s health. One extender included in the bill is for the Pediatric Quality Measures Program which funds the development and refinement of pediatric quality measures at centers of excellence predominantly housed in children’s hospitals. Securing this $15 million extension will prevent a lapse in funding for the centers while advocates and lawmakers work toward a multi-year reauthorization of the program and related provisions. Further, the package included a delay of Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) cuts until 2017 and an extension of the Medicaid and CHIP express lane eligibility option for states for one year through September 2015. 

 

March 31, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: House Votes to Delay Cuts to Medicare Payments 
■ The Million Records Project 
■ Expanded Consumer Choice Act 
■ Governor McAuliffe Releases Budget Proposal 
■ Division on Medicaid Expansion Continues 
■ Children’s Services: Sleep-Related Infant Deaths in Virginia 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: House Votes to Delay Cuts to Medicare Payments 

On Thursday morning, the House passed by voice vote a proposal (HR 4302) to delay for 12 months a scheduled 24% cut to Medicare physician reimbursements. The current three-month "doc fix" expires on April 1. House and Senate lawmakers had been working to develop final legislation that would repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate formula, which sets Medicare physician payment rates. However, disagreements over cost offsets in separate Democratic and Republican-sponsored proposals threatened to prevent a final bill from being passed. 

The proposal would: 
·     Grant Medicare physicians a 0.5 percent fee increase through the end of 2014; 
·     Provide higher Medicare payments to hospitals in rural areas and for ambulance services in such areas; 
·     Establish two new mental health grant programs, one of which would receive $60 million over four years to improve outpatient treatment for individuals with serious mental illnesses; 
·     Delay the deadline to implement the new ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure code sets by one year, to October 1, 2015
·     Delay implementation of the new inpatient payment rule for hospitals, known as the two-midnight rule, by six months, to March 2015; and 
·     Implement $2 billion in payment reductions over 10 years to skilled nursing providers. 

In addition, the compromise proposal would delay by an additional year -- to fiscal year 2017 -- the start of scheduled annual Medicaid reductions to hospitals that treat a disproportionate share of low-income patients, 

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) set up a Senate vote on the “doc fix” for Monday, March 31. For the fix to be approved, it will have to get 60 votes. Reid said he would have preferred to pass a full repeal of the SGR pay-for rather than a 13-month extension. 

The Million Records Project 

The Million Records Project, a collaboration among Student Veterans of America, the National Student Clearinghouse, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs shows veterans who used the GI Bill to go to college at some point from 2002 to 2010,appear to have graduated at rates comparable to their nonveteran peers, attended mostly public institutions, and may have taken slightly longer to complete their degrees. It also shows over all, nearly 52 percent of the 788,915 veterans in the study earned a postsecondary degree. The graduation rates in the report reflect those veterans who began using their GI Bill benefits between 2002 and 2010 and who completed a degree by June 2013, the most-recent degree information provided to researchers by the National Student Clearinghouse. 

For more information, visit http://www.studentveterans.org/what-we-do/million-records-project.html

Expanded Consumer Choice Act 

Senator Mark Warner (Virginia) has introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate that would provide families with additional health coverage choices. Warner’s Expanded Consumer Choice Act, co-sponsored by Senator Mark Begich (Alaska), would provide for a new, lower-cost health coverage option for consumers, set up a process to allow coverage plans to be offered regionally and across state lines, and ease unnecessary reporting requirements for employers. Warner’s proposal would create a new coverage option called the Copper Plan, to be offered along with the existing Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. The plan would provide a lower-cost, higher-deductible option for consumers, while covering the essential health benefits and consumer protections required of all health care plans offered through the ACA. 

For more details on Warner’s proposal, visit 
http://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/pressreleases?ContentRecord_id=6e59b6f6-330c-4386-8040-38ad40457694. 

Governor McAuliffe Releases Budget Proposal 

As the General Assembly began its special session on March 24, Governor McAuliffe released a two-year budget for the legislature to consider and pass in order to conclude its work for the year. The Governor’s budget is based on the budget introduced by his predecessor at the beginning of the legislative session, with 104 amendments that reflect the Governor’s priorities, including using Virginians’ own federal tax dollars to close the health care coverage gap. 

Highlights of the Governor’s budget include: 
·     $8.9 million for mental health; 
·     $100 million in the Virginia Health Reform and Innovation Fund for future healthcare costs; 
·     $76 million as a reserve payment for the Virginia Retirement System; and 
·     2 percent salary increase for state employees, K-12 teachers and support personnel, college and university faculty, constitutional officers and state-supported local employees. 

To view the details of the Governor’s budget proposal, visit http://lis.virginia.gov/142/bud/TOC3.HTM

Division on Medicaid Expansion Continues 

Virginia lawmakers and stakeholders have reaffirmed their positions which continue to delay passing a new state budget. The House of Delegates recessed Tuesday night after passing their version of a state spending plan without considering the 104 budget amendments — including language allowing for Medicaid expansion. On one side of the Capitol, Democratic leaders promised that the Virginia Senate will not pass a budget that does not include some form of Medicaid expansion. Democrats and Governor McAuliffe favor expansion. House Republicans oppose Medicaid expansion and agree the issue should be debated later. Republicans feel it is necessary to pass a “clean budget” at the moment to allow localities and public colleges and universities time to set their own budgets before the close of the current fiscal year June 30

The Senate has adjourned until April 7 to allow public comment on the budgets proposed by the House and Governor McAuliffe. The Senate Finance Committee will meet Tuesday at 2 p.m. and receive public comment then. 

Children’s Services:  Sleep-Related Infant Deaths in Virginia 

The Virginia State Child Fatality Review Team recently released a report, Sleep-related infant deaths in Virginia, on deaths attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID), and asphyxia as well as undetermined deaths that were potentially related to the sleep environment. 

Some of the report findings include: 
·     In 2009, 119 infants died unexpectedly in a sleep environment, approximately one infant death every three days. After natural disease, sleep-related death is the leading cause of infant death in Virginia, a loss of life nearly ten times the number of infants who died as a result of abusive head trauma and almost thirty times the number of infants who died in motor vehicle collisions; 
·    95 percent of these deaths were preventable and 90 percent were related to an unsafe sleep environment; 
·    More than 70 percent of the infants were exposed to secondhand smoke; 
·   More than half of the infants who died were co-sleeping with at least one other person; and 
·    One in five mothers used alcohol or drugs while pregnant with the infant who died. 

The report was created in order to help develop ideas for intervention and prevention of similar deaths. To view the full report, visithttp://www.vdh.virginia.gov/medExam/documents/pdf/SUID%20Report-ALL%20Sections%20Compiled%20FINAL.pdf

 

March 24, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Lawmakers Divided Over a Budget Deal 
■ Student Pathways to Earning Degrees 
■ Alcohol Education and Enforcement Grants 
■ General Assembly Special Session Convenes 
■ 2015 Letter to Issuers in the Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces 
■ Children’s Services: Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act of 2013 Passes 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Lawmakers Divided Over a Budget Deal 

Divisions among Republicans over a budget deal and a shortfall in tax estimates are complicating the House GOP's efforts to advance a spending plan this spring. Party leaders insist the GOP-controlled House is moving full speed ahead to approve one, but it has fallen behind schedule amid concerns there will be enough votes to pass it. 

Doubts exist because Republicans are split by a bipartisan deal from December between the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin), and his Senate counterpart Patty Murray (Washington). The deal set the spending cap for the 2015 budget year at levels higher than those imposed by a budget and debt agreement from 2011. Sixty-two House Republicans voted against the Ryan-Murray deal, mostly because they favored lower spending. Most would have to change course and vote in favor of the higher numbers that Ryan has signaled he will use. Democrats who supplied the votes required to pass the December deal probably would not back a Ryan-written budget that reprises future cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and other programs. 

House Majority leader Eric Cantor (Virginia) announced Friday in an email to Republicans that the House would vote on Ryan's budget in April and that it would promise to be in balance in 10 years despite starting off with the Ryan-Murray figure for 2015. Democrats who are in control in the Senate, have already said they are not writing a budget this year after passing one last year for the first time since 2009. 

Student Pathways to Earning Degrees 

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center has released state-by-state data on the various pathways students take on their way to earning degrees and certificates. The data builds on a national report from 2012 that showed a more optimistic picture of college completion than other studies had found previously. According to the report, 13 percent of students nationwide who first enrolled at a four-year public institution completed their credential at a different college; and 3.6 percent of students who began at a four-year public institution earned their first degree or certificate at a community college. Among other findings, the report also gives state-specific breakdowns of the proportion of students who began at community colleges and eventually completed at four-year institutions. 

The National Student Clearinghouse® Research Center™ works with higher education institutions, states, policymakers, among others, about student educational pathways. Through accurate longitudinal data outcomes reporting, the Research Center enables better educational policy decisions leading to improved student outcomes. 

To view the report, visit http://nscresearchcenter.org/signaturereport6-statesupplement/

Alcohol Education and Enforcement Grants 

The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control has awarded five grants for alcohol education and enforcement initiatives on Virginia college and university campuses. Officials say the grants totaling nearly $5,000 will support campus-based educational efforts of student organizations at the College of William & Mary, Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Tidewater Community College and Virginia Commonwealth University. The money will fund programs that encourage safe spring break practices. This is the first time the agency has offered the College Alcohol Awareness Mini Grants. Student groups were able to apply for a maximum of $1,000 in grant money. The initiative is part of a series of regional one-day conferences for student leaders, college administrators and community advocates that provides workshops and resources on alcohol education and prevention. 

General Assembly Special Session Convenes 

Virginia state lawmakers returned to Richmond on Monday, March 24 for a special session in which they will try to pass a roughly $96 billion two-year budget. Prospects for a quick resolution look dim, as Republican leaders in the House of Delegates and Governor McAuliffe continue to spar over whether Virginia should accept additional federal Medicaid funding. McAuliffe and the controlled Senate want a state budget that includes a Medicaid expansion plan that emphasizes the use of private insurers, a plan leaders in the House oppose. 

Republicans have asked Governor McAuliffe to "decouple" the debate over Medicaid expansion and the state's budget. But McAuliffe has rejected the Republican's suggestion that the General Assembly pass a budget without Medicaid expansion and then hold a special session devoted entirely to the subject. 

The governor has spent the two weeks since the end of the regular session making appearances at health centers around the state to promote the benefits of Medicaid expansion. House leaders have spent the break between the regular session and the special session highlighting how uncertainty with the state budget affects those who depend on the money. 

2015 Letter to Issuers in the Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released its final 2015 Letter to Issuers in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces. The letter provides insurance issuers with technical guidance regarding CMS expectations of health plans in the federally facilitated and state partnership exchanges (a.k.a. marketplaces). 

To view the letter, visit http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/Downloads/draft-issuer-letter-2-4-2014.pdf

Children’s Services:  Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act of 2013 Passes 

The Senate has voted to pass the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act of 2013 by unanimous consent. The bill terminates funding from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund for political party conventions. This funding (estimated at $126 million over 10 years) is then authorized to be spent on pediatric medical research activities through the Common Fund at NIH. To ensure the funding goes towards pediatric research the bill directs spending be drawn from a new Pediatric Research Initiative Fund. H.R. 2019. The bill was originally introduced by Representative Gregg Harper (Mississippi), who has a child with Fragile X syndrome and was strongly supported by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Virginia). The bill previously passed the House onDecember 11 on a bipartisan basis, 295 to 103. 

 

March 17, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: House Republicans Leaders Poll Members on the Budget 
■ Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act 
■ Pat Wright Announces Retirement 
■ Jones Elected New Chairman of the DPV 
■ Coalition Launches Media Campaign to Rally Support for Medicaid 
■ Children’s Services: VICC Recognizes EI Partners for State Performance 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: House Republicans Leaders Poll Members on the Budget 

House Republican leaders are polling their members on whether they would support a budget from Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) that makes deeper spending cuts than in past years, in an effort to gauge whether they have enough votes to pass it off the floor. Aides said Friday that the party had not made a final decision on whether to advance a budget this year, despite a strong push by Ryan, the Budget Committee chairman, to hold a vote by April 15

The leadership has told rank-and-file members that the budget would likely stick to the spending cap of $1.014 trillion for fiscal year 2015, which the House approved as part of the December agreement negotiated by Ryan and Senator Patty Murray (Washington). But in order to achieve the 10-year balanced budget Republicans consider a priority, Ryan will have to propose deeper cuts in the years after 2015 than in the budget that passed the House last year. 

Party leaders need the votes of many of the 62 conservative Republicans who voted against the Ryan-Murray deal without losing more moderate members who would likely oppose deeper cuts to federal programs, since Democrats are likely to unanimously oppose the plan. Some members are saying that there is no need to spend time debating a budget during the election year because appropriators have already started crafting 2015 spending bills based on the top-line numbers in the two-year budget deal. 

Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) has said repeatedly in recent weeks that the party intends to vote on a budget, but he has told members privately that no decisions have been made. 

Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act 

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (Texas) and Research and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (Indiana) have introduced the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act (H.R. 4186). The bill reauthorizes and streamlines federal investments at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) by funding research and development (R&D) to address national needs. The bill highlights manufacturing competitiveness as the primary role of NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) while providing greater flexibility to MEP centers. It also sets priorities for taxpayer-funded research and drives our nation’s investments in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. 

The FIRST Act broadens the definition of STEM education to include academic subjects like computer science that build on traditional STEM subjects. The bill also includes language allowing NSF to support student participation in nonprofit competitions, out-of-school activities and field experiences related to STEM. The legislation also encourages outcome-based evaluations of STEM programs. 

For more information, visit http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HR4186.pdf

Pat Wright Announces Retirement 

Superintendent of Public Instruction Pat Wright has announced her retirement effective May 1, 2014. Wright was appointed state superintendent by Governor Tim Kaine in 2008, and was reappointed by Governor Bob McDonnell in 2010. She also served as acting superintendent of public instruction under Governor Mark Warner in 2005 and early 2006. During her tenure, Wright oversaw a major revision of the commonwealth’s Standards of Learning (SOL) to emphasize college and career readiness, the introduction of more challenging and innovative SOL tests in all subjects, and the expanded use of technology in instruction and assessment. Wright’s retirement caps a 39-year career in public education. Before coming to VDOE in 1985, Wright taught mathematics for 10 years at the secondary and middle school levels in Sussex County and Chesterfield County public schools. 

To view the Governor’s statement on Wright’s retirement, visit http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2014/03_mar11_gov.shtml

Jones Elected New Chairman of the DPV 

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones has been elected the new chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPV). The mayor was backed by a majority of the 300 members of the party’s State Central Committee during a meeting at the Wyndham Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center in Glen Allen. Only a few opposed his selection by voice vote. Jones succeeds Delegate Charniele Herring (Alexandria), who was elected chairman in December 2012. 

Coalition Launches Media Campaign to Rally Support for Medicaid 

A coalition that includes chambers of commerce and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) launched a radio, online and social media campaign Friday to rally support for a private option plan to expand health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Virginians. The minute-long radio ad, paid for by the Association, asks listeners to join in urging state lawmakers to “put Virginia first, reject the politics of Washington, and work together to return our tax dollars to help working Virginians.” An impasse over Medicaid expansion resulted in the Virginia General Assembly adjourning on March 8 without passing a budget. A special session is scheduled to begin March 24

For more information on the coalition, visit https://www.facebook.com/healthyvaworks

Children’s Services:  VICC Recognizes EI Partners for State Performance 

In a letter to Part C staff, lead agencies, local system managers and El providers, the Virginia Interagency Coordinating Council (VICC) recognized the VCU Partnership for People with Disabilities for providing training and support to Virginia’s early intervention professionals. With the support, accomplishments were made in the State Performance Plan. The eight year plan, initiated in 2004-05, established 14 indicators concerning the delivery of early intervention services to families in Virginia. Working collaboratively, the state was able to set targets and make improvements in the way services were provided. The indicators focused on improving the state Child Find effort; communication with families; the transition process; and the timeliness from intake to initiation of services. In addition, the Child Find effort has substantially improved in every region of the state since 2005, in spite of the fiscal challenges faced over the last couple of years. 

The VICC thanked all partners for their hard work and dedication to represent early intervention in Virginia. 

 

March 10, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Burwell Comments on the Appropriations Process 
■ Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant 
■ Additional Appointments to McAuliffe Administration 
■ Commonwealth Coordinated Care Program 
■ General Assembly Session Adjourns 
■ Children’s Services: Positive Elements for Children in FY 2015 Budget 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Burwell Comments on the Appropriations Process 

White House Budget Director Sylvia Burwell on Friday said she sees an opening to negotiate a spending increase with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin). Burwell noted that Ryan has signaled he wants to increase defense spending this year above the budget caps, and said that could spark a negotiation separate from the appropriations process. 

According to Burwell, the White House will be pushing for its jobs spending within the budget cap this year, in addition to one-for-one increases in defense and non-defense spending as part of any deal. She also outlined ways President Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget could shape the appropriations bills being drafted in Congress. 

House and Senate appropriators said they would ignore Obama’s request for $56 billion in spending above the budget caps and proceed with writing 12 spending bill to the $1.014 trillion budget cap level in law. Burwell said expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit, which Obama calls for in his budget, is popular with Republicans and that she can see action on Obama’s call for $302 billion in transportation spending this year. 

Joint Economic Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (Texas) on Friday dismissed Burwell’s suggestion, and argued that President Obama’s budget was not leading anywhere. Brady said that given the amount of work left to do on tax reform, including soliciting feedback on draft plan from Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (Michigan), an infrastructure deal using tax reform revenue is not going to happen. 

Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant 

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has awarded grants totaling more than $2.1 million to ten partnerships between school divisions and colleges and universities, including VCU, to increase content knowledge and sharpen classroom skills of teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – subject areas known collectively as STEM. 

The awards were made through VDOE’s Mathematics and Science Partnership grant competition, which was announced last August. School divisions and institutions of higher education were encouraged to submit proposals to create partnerships that would provide professional development to teachers. The professional development proposals focus on supporting the implementation of the 2009 Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) and the 2010 Science SOL. 

For more information about Mathematics and Science Partnership projects and resources, visit http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2014/03_mar05.shtml

Additional Appointments to McAuliffe Administration 

Governor McAuliffe recently announced additional appointments to his administration including David Brown, Director of the Department of Health Professions and Carole Pratt, Special Policy Advisor to the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health. 

Brown is a former member of the Virginia Board of Medicine, the Virginia High School League Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and a former president of the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards. He was the Mayor of the City of Charlottesville from 2004 to 2008, and in 2009 joined Edison2, a Charlottesville start-up that won the 2010 Automotive XPRIZE. Since 2012 he has worked as the special assistant to Delegate David Toscano. 

Pratt practiced general dentistry in rural southwest Virginia for 32 years, during which time she served four terms as chair of Virginia’s Board of Health, and vice chair of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. She is the past chair of the board of trustees at Lewis Gale Hospital at Pulaski, and in 2009, Pratt was a fellow of the National Rural Health Association. She is a member of the Virginia Oral Health Coalition and she has chaired the Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Consortium, which creates and supports medical residency preceptor sites in rural and underserved communities. Pratt is an alumna of Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry and is a member of the Dean’s Board of Advisors. 

Commonwealth Coordinated Care Program 

On Thursday, Governor McAuliffe announced the Commonwealth Coordinated Care (CCC) program. CCC is a new initiative to coordinate care for individuals who are currently served by both Medicare and Medicaid and meet certain eligibility requirements. The program is designed to be Virginia’s single program to coordinate delivery of primary, preventive, acute, behavioral, and long-term services and supports. The goals of this initiative include: improved quality and health outcomes, streamlined Medicare and Medicaid requirements, increased accountability, reduced burden for enrollees and providers, providing care in each individual’s setting of choice, and reduced avoidable services. Supplementary benefits will include care coordination, interdisciplinary care teams, and person-centered care plans. Anthem Healthkeepers, Humana and Virginia Premier have all signed on with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and DMAS to provide services. Those who are eligible will receive letters in the next few weeks. Information on how to enroll in the program and comparison charts will also be included. 

For more information, visit http://www.dmas.virginia.gov/Content_pgs/altc-enrl.aspx

General Assembly Session Adjourns 

The 2014 regular session of the Virginia General Assembly adjourned Saturday without members of the House and Senate finalizing the commonwealth's two-year, $96 billion spending plan that would start July 1; or resolving the issue of Medicaid expansion. In addition to the budget, legislators leave in limbo proposals for state employee raises, a plan to renovate the Capitol Square complex and money to help memorialize the slave trade in Shockoe Bottom. Before departing, lawmakers approved proposals to significantly reform the state's mental health laws, reduce the number of Standards of Learning tests for students in grades 3-8 and update ethics regulations. 

Following adjournment, Governor McAuliffe called a special session beginning March 24 to finalize the budget. To view the Governor's letter to the General Assembly following adjournment, visit https://governor.virginia.gov/news/newsarticle?articleId=3583

Children’s Services:  Positive Elements for Children in FY 2015 Budget 

The White House’s FY 2015 Budget contains some notable positive elements for children’s services. Most notably, the budget includes a proposal to extend the Medicaid primary care payment equity provision included in Section 1202 of the Affordable Care Act for an additional year, through the end of CY 2015. Without congressional action, this provision would expire in December 2014. The president’s budget proposes to expand eligibility for the enhanced rate to mid-level providers, including physician assistants and nurse practitioners, while excluding emergency room codes, according to the White House to better target primary care. The president’s budget also includes extensions of several provisions originally enacted as part of the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009 (CHIPRA). Among the CHIPRA provisions, the budget includes an extension of the state performance incentives program and a permanent extension of the express lane eligibility option for states. Both provisions promote streamlined enrollment processes for children of low-income families applying for health coverage. 

 

March 4, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: President Obama 2015 Budget Proposal 
■ Proposed Rules on Political Activity 
■ Mayor Dwight Jones Considering DPV Chair 
■ Attorney General Three-Member Review Panel 
■ State Budget Impasse Looms   
■ Dogs on Call Program Visited the General Assembly 
■ Children’s Services: State-Level Advocacy for CHIP Reauthorization 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: President Obama 2015 Budget Proposal 

President Barack Obama has sent Congress a $3.9 trillion budget that would funnel money into road building, education and other economy-bolstering programs. Included in the plan is a small funding increase for both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

NIH would be funded at $30.2 billion, a $200 million increase from 2014, and additional funds set aside for Alzheimer's research and DARPA. An additional $462 million would be set aside for developing "medical countermeasures," that protect from the harms of chemical, biological and other modern-day weapons, with yet more money going into the government's current research program on the subject. Several Institutes within NIH would see small decreases under the Obama budget, including programs that fund research on cancer and diabetes. 

NSF would receive a 1 percent funding increase to $7.3 billion. The funds include several small research initiatives, including $362 million towards clean energy research and $151 for towards advanced manufacturing research that could be conducted in partnership with the private sector. 

The budget proposal highlights stark differences with Republicans, who favor a reduced government role in promoting economic opportunity. It is all but certain to be rejected by the Republican-controlled House and stands little chance of passage. However, it sets out the Democratic president's policy priorities ahead of November congressional elections, in which the Democrats hope to keep control of the U.S. Senate and avoid losing ground in the House. 

Proposed Rules on Political Activity 

A coalition of higher education associations on Thursday urged the Obama administration not to apply to colleges and universities its proposed rules on political activity by certain tax-exempt nonprofit organizations. 

The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have been seeking public comments on their proposal to more clearly define what constitutes political campaign-related activity at “social welfare” nonprofits, which are organized under section 501(c)4 of the tax code. Those organizations are permitted to engage in some campaign activity, but government watchdogs say the blurred lines are allowing an influx of secret money into politics that has a corrupting effect. 

In proposing new standards at those 501(c)4 organizations, the Treasury Department and IRS also asked for input on whether they should apply the same definition of political campaign activity to 501(c)3 organizations, which include most nonprofit colleges and universities. Colleges and universities, like all 501(c)3 nonprofits, are completely prohibited from engaging in any "political campaign intervention" as a condition of their tax-exempt status. 

To view the proposal, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-11-29/pdf/2013-28492.pdf

Mayor Dwight Jones Considering DPV Chair 

Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones is considering a bid for Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia (DPV). According to Jones’ Deputy Chief of Staff Don Mark, current DPV chairwoman Charniele Herring is planning to step down at a March 15 meeting. Her replacement would be voted on at that time. Mark has also said Governor McAuliffe supported Mayor Jones for the new role. Jones would remain as mayor of Richmond while serving as DPV chair. 

Attorney General Three-Member Review Panel 

A newly created three-member review panel is charged with identifying efficiencies and needed reforms in the attorney general’s office. The panel’s job is to determine whether taxpayer dollars are being efficiently spent and comply with the law and standards of legal ethics and professionalism, including budget management and finance, the execution of the office’s responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act and the Conflict of Interest Act, use of outside counsel and information technology infrastructure. The panel consists of nonpartisan individuals with expertise in managing large organizations in the legal industry, the public sector, and the private sector. It will be chaired by Bill Leighty, managing principal of DecideSmart, a former chief of staff to Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and a former director of the Virginia Retirement System. Leighty will be joined by W. Taylor Reveley III, president of the College of William and Mary, and Katherine Busser, executive vice president and central Virginia market president of Capital One. 

State Budget Impasse Looms   

The House and Senate Budget Conferees are currently working to reconcile the two versions of budget proposals into a final State Budget for 2014-2016. Legislators in both chambers and in both parties agree that it may be difficult to finalize a spending plan, primarily because of the differences on Medicaid. A deadlock on the issue could force the General Assembly session, slated to end March 8, to run into overtime. Conferees must decide whether or not to expand Medicaid in Virginia this year. In addition, they must determine what form of expansion will be acceptable to both chambers. Republicans in the House are opposed to Medicaid expansion, agreeing Washington cannot afford to keep its promise to pick up most of the $2 billion-a-year cost. Democrats and a few moderate Republicans in the Senate support expansion through a market-based model, using the Medicaid money to subsidize private insurance plans. 

Dogs on Call Program Visited the General Assembly 

On February 25, therapy dogs and their trainers from the Virginia Commonwealth University Dogs on Call program visited the General Assembly this week, receiving recognition for the aid they provide. Recognized at the State Capitol by Senator Walter Stosch, the dogs visited the Senate floor and the offices of many state lawmakers. 

The Dogs on Call Program is part of the VCU School of Medicine’s Center for Human-Animal Interaction. In his introduction on the Senate floor, Stosch noted that the 35 therapy-dog teams, which consist of dogs and their trainers, visited more than 2,000 hospitalized patients in 2013 and more than 3,000 families and staff. Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, who was presiding over the Senate session, also praised the therapy dog teams. 

Children’s Services:  State-Level Advocacy for CHIP Reauthorization 

The state chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the March of Dimes (MOD) are expected to begin circulating sign on letters within the next two weeks to begin state-level advocacy for CHIP reauthorization. Also available is an open letter to President Obama and congressional leaders, co-signed by more than 400 organizations from across the country, urging leaders to reauthorize CHIP. 

To view a copy of the letter, visit http://www.firstfocus.net/sites/default/files/CHIP%20Sign-On%20Letter.pdf

 

February 24, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Preparations for the 2014 Midterm Elections 
■ Banas Selected as HIT Fellow 
■ Warner Joins Senate Finance Committee 
■ Governor McAuliffe Advocates for Medicaid Expansion 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ VCU Governance Legislation Approved 
■ Children’s Services: CHA Federal Affairs Visits CHoR 
■ Capitol Square Basketball Classic a Success 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Preparations for the 2014 Midterm Elections 

As members of Congress return Monday from their week-long President’s Day recess, preparations are being made for the 2014 midterm elections. 

Republicans want to hold their majority in the House while Senate Democrats want to maintain their own slim advantage. Over the next several months, neither side is eager to take up major legislation that might divide their own party. While lawmakers will try to steer clear of anything controversial, both parties’ agendas include politically motivated measures. 

Democrats hope to play “offense” with the GOP by distracting voter attention from Obamacare and focusing it on “income inequality.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), is planning to take up legislation to increase the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. Reid, before leaving for the recess, promised the Senate will consider a minimum wage bill “in the weeks ahead.” The legislation has no chance of becoming law because House Republican leaders will not take up the measure out of concerns it will hurt job growth. But a minimum wage bill would put political pressure on the GOP. 

The House, meanwhile, will play offense against Democrats by voting on a series of bills that respond to the Internal Revenue Service targeting issue as well as President Obama's use of executive action to bypass Congress. Among the bills the House will consider is H.R. 899, the Unfunded Mandates Information and Transparency Act of 2013. The bill would require the federal government to determine the costs and benefits of new regulations and would require alternative solutions if the cost is more than $100 million. 

Banas Selected as HIT Fellow 

Dr. Colin Banas, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University has been selected by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) as a spring 2014 health information technology (HIT) fellow. ONC selected 15 provider and administrator champions from across the United States to demonstrate how they are leveraging meaningful use to deliver better patient care. ONC is in a continuous state of coordination and collaboration to meet provider needs through outreach to grantees, national partners, and federal & local government agencies. In addition, ONC has identified a particular need to hear directly from providers, office staff, and administrators in the field to ensure that smaller practice & organizational needs are being met when providing resources & creating technical assistance tools. As a result, the Health IT Fellows program was created to learn with and from those in the field and to create conversation whereby Fellows can share best practices with their peers facing similar challenges in Health IT. 

Warner Joins Senate Finance Committee 

Senator Mark Warner (Virginia) has now joined the Senate Finance Committee, the body that tackles taxes, debt, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare. The appointment is expected to make Warner an even bigger player in the money issues where he has already made a mark. Warner got the seat when Finance Chairman Max Baucus resigned from the Senate to become ambassador to China. Warner currently serves on the Banking Committee, the Budget Committee and the Joint Economic Committee. He also serves on the Intelligence and Commerce committees. 

Governor McAuliffe Advocates for Medicaid Expansion 

Governor McAuliffe will visit Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg on Monday to discuss Medicaid expansion. The event is expected to be one of a series of visits that he will make around the state in the coming weeks to hear from people about the impact on their communities should the state reject extending coverage, according to an administration official. 

Members of the General Assembly are currently locked in a debate over whether to expand Medicaid coverage. In a test voteThursday, the House of Delegates defeated a private option to expansion that is included in the budget of the Senate. 

The visit coincides with a Virginia Chamber of Commerce news conference scheduled for Monday at the Capitol to release what it terms its “principles for a Medicaid private option for Virginia.” McAuliffe’s visit to Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg could lead to a multihospital tour to build support for the issue in the very legislative districts that stand to benefit from expansion. 

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly is currently in session. Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and@vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 orgovrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

VCU Governance Legislation Approved 

HB 355 has been approved by the General Assembly. The legislation, introduced by Delegate Kirk Cox, put in order current practice that president of university is chairman of board of health system. The legislation also codifies a dispute resolution mechanism if there is disagreement between the two boards regarding the terms and conditions of employment of the CEO of the health system who is also the VP of academic affairs for health sciences. The companion legislation, SB 341, passed the Senate and has been referred to the House Committee on Education for review. 

Children’s Services:  CHA Federal Affairs Visits CHoR 

On Friday February 21, John Knapp and Jenny Rudisill, members of the Children’s Hospital Association’s Federal Affairs team, visited the MCV and Brook Road campuses at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. The tour included visits to the PICU, NICU, Child Life, VTCC, and the Transitional Care Unit, among other programs. The VCU Office of Government Relations would like to thank Heather Kinney, Dr. Sharon Cone, Dr. Sandy Lewis, Dr. Bela Sood, and Robin Songer for making the visit a success. 

Capitol Square Basketball Classic a Success 

The VCU Office of Government Relations would like to thank everyone who supported the annual Capitol Square Basketball Classic held on Tuesday, February 18. The Senate beat the House of Delegates and the Governor's office triumphed over the Lobbyists, while raising more than $11,000 for VCU Massey Cancer Center. 

To view pictures taken during this year’s event, visit https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.614744851928365.1073741826.426027140800138&type=1 

 

February 17, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Government's Borrowing Authority Clears Congress 
■ Letter Regarding Recent Actions on Higher Education 
■ Marshall Joins Republican Race for Congress 
■ House and Senate Unveil Budget Proposals 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ At the State Capitol: Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 
■ Children’s Services: CHIP Briefing 
■ Capitol Square Basketball Classic 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Government's Borrowing Authority Clears Congress 

Legislation to extend the government's borrowing authority cleared Congress on Wednesday. The bill was sent to the White House, where President Barack Obama was expected to sign it, after the Senate voted primarily along party lines to approve a suspension of the federal debt limit. The House had passed the bill Tuesday, also primarily with Democratic support. 

The bill calls for suspending a cap on government borrowing until March 16, 2015, allowing the U.S. Treasury to sell debt as necessary. The legislation contains no spending cuts or other policy riders, marking it the first time since 2009 Congress has passed a "clean" debt limit. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) voted in favor of the motion to advance the bill, however, the vote lasted nearly an hour as Republicans who had been willing to support the bill held back. The final tally was 67-31, with 12 Republicans joining all 55 members of the Senate Democratic Caucus. 

Lawmakers were under pressure to expedite action on the bill because the U.S. Treasury has said an extension of borrowing authority was needed by February 27. In addition, both the House and Senate were expected to be in recess until the week ofFebruary 24

Letter Regarding Recent Actions on Higher Education 

Representatives John Kline, chair of the House education committee and Virginia Foxx, chair of the higher education subcommittee, on Wednesday sent a letter to the president regarding the administration’s recent actions on higher education. The letter also addresses the legislative progress on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Both the House and Senate education committees are currently holding a series of hearings about renewing the higher education law. Neither committee has produced a draft of legislation, but the chair of the Senate education committee, Tom Harkin, has said he wants to produce a bill by the end of the spring. 

To view the letter, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/02-12-14-president_obama_-_higher_ed_summit.pdf

Marshall Joins Republican Race for Congress 

Delegate Bob Marshall (Prince William) is joining the Republican race to succeed retiring U.S. Representative Frank Wolf. Marshall is at least the seventh GOP candidate for Wolf’s district, a battleground seat which stretches from McLean to the West Virginia border and also includes a portion of Prince William County. 

At this point, Delegate Barbara Comstock (Fairfax) appears to be the front-runner. Along with Marshall and Comstock, the Republican field includes former Pentagon official and lobbyist Howie Lind; Richard Shickle, chairman of the Frederick County Board of Supervisors; Stephen Hollingshead, an official in the administration of President George W. Bush; former congressional aide Rob Wasinger; and Marc Savitt, head of the National Association of Independent Housing Professionals. 

Republicans will choose their nominee April 26 in a party canvass — otherwise known as a firehouse primary. Democrats will pick their nominee the same day at a convention, with Fairfax County Board of Supervisors member John Foust considered the front-runner for their nod. 

House and Senate Unveil Budget Proposals 

The Virginia House and Senate unveiled budget proposals Sunday. The House’s version does not including funding to expand Medicaid while the Senate’s budget would subsidize private insurance premiums, following the private option approach known as “Marketplace Virginia.” Depending on approval from the federal government, Virginia would pay for that using the $2 billion a year that the federal government has offered for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. 

The House’s proposal makes some overtures to hospitals by providing about $81 million to help hospitals cover inflation and an extra $6 million to free health clinics around the state. Both chambers’ plans add money for higher education, giving raises or bonuses to state employees and funding the state employee retirement system. 

The competing budgets are likely to pass their respective chambers before a committee made up of representatives from both chambers attempts to negotiate a compromise solution that both the House and Senate will approve. 

To view the budget proposals in more detail, visit http://leg2.state.va.us/MoneyWeb.NSF/sb2014

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly is currently in session. 
Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and @vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 or govrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 

HB 886 – Introduced by Delegate Chris Peace, the legislation requires the State Council of Higher Education to disseminate to each public high school and each institution of higher education in the Commonwealth for which the Council has student-level data a link on its website to certain published postsecondary education and employment data. The bill also requires each institution of higher education to publish the link on its website. The bill has passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health. 

HB 1268 – Introduced by Delegate Timothy Hugo, the legislation requires the violence prevention committee of each public institution of higher education to establish policies and procedures to encourage all faculty and staff to report threatening or aberrant behavior that may represent a threat to the community to members of the campus community identified by the committee. The bill has passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Education and Health. 

Children’s Services:  CHIP Briefing 

On February 20, the Children’s Hospital Association and eight allied organizations will hold an educational lunch briefing on Capitol Hill. The briefing, "CHIP = Healthy Kids: Building on State Successes to Address the Health Care Needs of Children," will present information about the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including its history and structure, and highlight state experiences in providing health coverage for millions of low-income children. The panel will also include the perspective of a young girl fighting Crohn's disease who relies on CHIP coverage to meet her medical needs. 

Capitol Square Basketball Classic 

Join us Tuesday, February 18th for the annual Capitol Square Basketball Classic to benefit VCU Massey Cancer Center at the Siegel Center. The game features the Governor’s team versus a team of lobbyists and a team of Senators against members of the House. The game is free and open to the public. Rodney the Ram, the VCU Pep Band and the VCU Cheerleaders will be on hand to provide entertainment. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the game will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. 

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/CapitolSquareBasketballClassic.

 

February 10, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Temporary Increase in the Federal Debt Ceiling Expires 
■ Increased Funding to NIH 
■ Annual Health Information Technology (IT) Assessment 
■ General Assembly Reaches Halfway Point 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ At the State Capitol: Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 
■ Children’s Services: CHIPRA Anniversary 
■ Capitol Square Basketball Classic 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Temporary Increase in the Federal Debt Ceiling Expires 

February 7th marked the expiration of a temporary increase in the federal debt ceiling passed by Congress in late 2013. The Obama Administration has stated publicly that the Treasury will exhaust its ability to pay the nation’s bills by the end of February, and that an extension to the debt limit needs to be passed this month. 

At this point it is not clear how Congress will proceed on this issue, however, House Republicans are moving toward introducing a bill that would lift the debt limit until the first quarter of 2015. According to multiple sources familiar with internal deliberations, the plan will include patching the Medicare reimbursement rate for nine months and reversing recent changes to some military retirement benefits. 

Since patching the reimbursement rate for doctors who treat Medicare patients — known as the Sustainable Growth Rate or “doc fix” — and changing cost of living benefits for the military could be costly, House Republicans would seek to pay for those items with an extra year of cuts to mandatory spending and changes to pension contributions. Democrats have been unified in their position that they will not negotiate spending cuts in exchange for increasing the limit. 

What is clear is that both sides want to avoid an election-year repeat over the issue that occurred in 2013. For this reason, many lawmakers expect that a “clean” extension with no policy riders may be what Congress ultimately passes. 

Increased Funding to NIH 

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA-7) announced Friday that the House will work on a proposal to increase funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this year. He toured kaléo, a local pharmaceutical company that develops lifesaving personal medical products and participated in a roundtable discussion with local patient advocates and their families who have benefitted from innovative medical research and technology. During the visit, Cantor said the proposal will be funded by eliminating wasteful spending in Congress, but did not offer further details. The NIH has suffered budget cuts in recent years. The budget deal approved in January increased the NIH’s budget by $1 billion to $29.9 billion, a significant increase over sequester-level funding, but still left the institute below its 2012 funding level. 

Annual Health Information Technology (IT) Assessment 

Governor McAuliffe has announced the results of the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology’s 2013 Health Information Technology (IT) Assessment. The annual assessment demonstrates Virginia's national leadership in telehealth initiatives, documents faster broadband speeds across the Commonwealth and an increase in adoption rates of electronic health records by Virginia physicians. 

Important findings include: 
·   Virginia is a leader in telehealth adoption and utilization; 
·   The HIE marketplace in Virginia is more dynamic and has a larger provider pool relative to many states; 
·   Virginia ranks third nationally in EHR adoption among the hospital sector; and 
·   Virginia ranks third nationally in download speeds (11.1 Mbps > national average of 8.7 Mbps), which is critical for successful HIE. 

For more information, visit http://www.wired.virginia.gov/broadband_health_it.shtml

General Assembly Reaches Halfway Point 

On February 11th, the General Assembly reaches the halfway point known as “Crossover.”  This is the point in the legislative process when the House and Senate must complete legislative work and refer matters that are approved to the other house. Of approximately 2,509 bills and resolutions introduced, more than 1,692 are still pending formal action. 

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly is currently in session. Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and@vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 orgovrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 

HB 496 – Introduced by Delegate Joseph Yost, the legislation adds campus police officers to the list of persons for which an enhanced penalty applies if such person is victimized because of his position. The bill has been assigned to the Committee for Courts of Justice. 

HB 501 – Introduced by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, the legislation requires students who live outside the Commonwealth, have been employed full time inside Virginia for at least one year, and were granted in-state tuition to be counted as in-state students for the purposes of determining college admissions, enrollment, and tuition and fee revenue policies. The legislation has passed the House (84-Y 14-N). 

Children’s Services:  CHIPRA Anniversary 

February 4th marked the fifth anniversary of President Obama signing the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) into law, reauthorizing and expanding the program that launched in 1997. CHIP is celebrated for providing more than 8 million children with access to health care. 

Federal funding for CHIP is set to expire at the end of fiscal year 2015. CHIP coverage is co-funded by state and federal governments, with the federal government paying the vast majority of costs. However, since it is a shared program, it still requires state involvement and state funding to remain intact. 

For more information, visit http://www.childrenshospitals.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=CHIP

Capitol Square Basketball Classic 

Join us February 18th for the annual Capitol Square Basketball Classic to benefit VCU Massey Cancer Center at the Siegel Center. The game is split into two mini-games, the first one featuring the Governor and his team of executive branch members, versus a team of lobbyists. The second game puts a team of Senators against members of the House. The game is free and open to the public. Rodney the Ram, the VCU Pep Band and the VCU Cheerleaders will be on hand to provide entertainment. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the game will begin promptly at 7:00 p.m. 

For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/CapitolSquareBasketballClassic

 

February 3, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: State of the Union Address 
■ Report on Interest Rates on Student Loans 
■ Financial Aid Awareness 
■ Recount Confirms Lewis' Win 
■ Change in Power Structure of the Senate 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ At the State Capitol: Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 
■ Children’s Services: CHoR Art on Display 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: State of the Union Address 

In his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress, President Obama outlined his priorities for legislative action and for the American people. Among the topics he addressed were income inequality, providing opportunities for upward mobility, investment in the economy, and fostering business and economic progress. He also talked about energy policy, immigration policy, and health care reform.  

On foreign policy and national security, the president renewed his commitment to both anti-terrorism and diplomatic efforts, called again for the closing of Guantanamo detention facilities, and reasserted his commitment to diplomatic negotiations throughout the Middle East on issues of nuclear proliferation and a permanent Israeli-Palestinian agreement. 

President Obama directed his speech in an effort to drive his agenda for the remainder of his second term. He made clear during his address that he was willing to use executive orders to work past partisan gridlock. 

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Washington) delivered the Republican State of the Union response, and Senators Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Mike Lee (Utah) provided their own rebuttals to the president’s proposals. 

To view a video of the address, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hed1nP9X7pI

Report on Interest Rates on Student Loans 

A new federal report released Friday by the Government Accountability Office confirms that it is not possible to set interest rates on student loans in advance so that the government breaks even on the program. That is because it is difficult to accurately predict how much the loans will cost at any given point in time, according to the report, which was required as part of the compromise student loan legislation approved last year. 

The actual cost to the government of the loans it makes in a single year will not be known for as many as 40 years later, according to the report. In the meantime, though, policymakers have to rely on estimates of program's cost. Those estimates, the report finds, can fluctuate widely each year since they are a function of, among other things, how much the government can recoup from borrowers and the government's own cost of borrowing. 

The report did not make any policy recommendations, nor did it weigh into the debate over which set of accounting rules the government should follow in tracking student loans. 

To view a copy of the report, visit http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660548.pdf

Financial Aid Awareness 

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) is partnering with the Virginia Association of Financial Aid Administrators (VASFAA) to kick off Financial Aid Awareness Month and Super FAFSA Week. The FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is the form used by colleges, universities, and career-technical schools across the country to determine eligibility for federal financial aid and most state and university need-based financial assistance programs. 

FAFSA Week is from February 1-8 when financial aid assistance events will be held at over 60 sites across the Commonwealth. Each site will have financial aid professionals on hand to respond to questions and concerns from students and families taking this important step toward college enrollment. Each site will provide computers with internet access and other resource materials. Events are open to the public. 

For more information, visit www.vasfaa.org/super

Recount Confirms Lewis' Win 

A recount in a special election for a Virginia Senate seat has been won by Delegate Lynwood Lewis, giving Democrats control of the upper chamber. The District 6 recount confirmed Lewis' win over Norfolk Republican Wayne Coleman in a January 7 special election. Lewis' win leaves the Senate evenly split, with Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam serving as the tie-breaking vote. 

Change in Power Structure of the Senate 

Seeking to reshape the power structure of the Senate, Democrats proposed Tuesday to flip party control of senate committees. Since committees typically control which legislation makes it to the Senate floor, the change gives the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, now Senator John Edwards, the power to route to the committee — and not to a conference committee — a Senate bill that has been substantially amended in the House. The rule would not apply to budget-related measures. 

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly is currently in session. 
Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and @vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 or govrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 

HB 205 – Introduced by Delegate Steve Landes, the legislation requires the board of visitors or other governing board of each public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth to establish and enforce policies for the discipline of students who participate in varsity intercollegiate athletics. A recent amendment of the bill would require the BOV to adopt a student athlete discipline policy in addition to requiring the administration to report on its enforcement annually. The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Education and Health. 

HB 946 – Introduced by Delegate Timothy Hugo, the legislation limits the pecuniary liability of an employer for medical, surgical, and hospital services provided on or after October 1, 2015, pursuant to the Virginia Workers' Compensation Act to the maximum amount that may be paid pursuant to fee schedules established by the Workers' Compensation Commission, unless a contract provides otherwise. The legislation has been assigned to a Commerce & Labor subcommittee on Special Workers Compensation. 

Children’s Services:  CHoR Art on Display 

January 13-17 was Equality and Peace Week for the residents of the Transitional Care Unit (TCU) on the Brook Road campus at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.  Fifteen of the CHoR residents made “Symbols of Peace Art” using finger prints and some paint brushes to create peace signs, doves, and hearts. The art is currently displayed at the General Assembly Building on the 3rd floor, in the 3rd floor east conference room. Congratulations to Vernita Jones, Recreation Therapy Supervisor and the Recreation Therapy staff for coordinating this project. Recognition is also given to the residents of the TCU for their creations. The art will be displayed for the remainder of the 2014 General Assembly session. 

 

January 27, 2014

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Raising the Nation’s Borrowing Limit 
■ “Technical Symposium” 
■ 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award 
■ State Senator Featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” 
■ Levine Named Interim Health Commissioner 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ At the State Capitol: Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 
■ Children’s Services: Reauthorizing CHIP 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Raising the Nation’s Borrowing Limit 

The White House disputed with Republican lawmakers Thursday over raising the nation’s borrowing limit. The administration also announced that President Obama will be delayed in submitting a new federal budget. 

The White House advised congressional Republicans that failing to raise the debt limit of just under $17 trillion within two weeks would hurt the middle class and risk another government shutdown. An aide to Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) said the House will not agree to increase the borrowing limit without obtaining some concessions from the administration. 

As part of a deal to reopen the government last October, lawmakers agreed to suspend the debt limit through February 7. Observers in both parties had expressed relief in December when the administration reached a two-year budget deal with Congress. But as the deadline approaches for raising the debt limit, contention between both sides has returned 

President Obama is expected to deliver his fiscal 2015 spending plan on March 4. By law, the president is to submit a budget on the first Monday in February. A White House official said the budget has been delayed by the budget deal that Congress passed in December, and by the $1.1 trillion spending bill that was passed this month. 

“Technical Symposium” 

The U.S. Department of Education Department is planning to host a “technical symposium” on the Obama administration’s proposed college ratings system. The date for the daylong, public meeting is February 6. The symposium will feature presentations from more than a dozen people with expertise in higher education data who will make presentations on various aspects of the department’s proposal to develop a ratings system.   

2014 Outstanding Faculty Award 

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and Dominion Resources have announced the twelve faculty members from Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities who have been selected as recipients of the 2014 Outstanding Faculty Award (OFA). Dr. David Cifu, Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at VCU was one of the twelve selected. 

This year marks the 28th anniversary of the statewide awards program, which honors faculty members for excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration, and public service. The recipients will be recognized during a February 20 ceremony at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. Each of the recipients will receive an engraved award and a $5,000 check underwritten by the Dominion Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Dominion Resources. 

Photos and information about each of this year's recipients can be found on the SCHEV website atwww.schev.edu/AdminFaculty/OFAprogramIndex.asp

State Senator Featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” 

State Senator Creigh Deeds was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” news program Sunday night to discuss Virginia’s mental health system. Deeds’ interview was part of a story about the broader concerns with mental illness treatment in the U.S. 

Here in Virginia, Senator Deeds has made it a mission in this year’s General Assembly session to change Virginia’s mental health laws. He is proposing the state have a digital registry of psychiatric beds and their availability, something that the state is working on. He also wants a comprehensive review of the state’s mental health care delivery system. One of Deeds’ proposals has already passed the Senate — a bill calling for a review of the qualifications of the workers who evaluate people in crisis. 

Most of the mental health bills proposed this session are still making their way through the committee process. Both the House and Senate set up special subcommittees to hear the mental health bills. The Senate subcommittee’s report is expected at the next full Senate Education and Health committee meeting this week. 

To view Senator Deeds’ CBS’ “60 Minutes” interview, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5Wzzy3t55U

Levine Named Interim Health Commissioner 

Governor Terry McAuliffe has named Dr. Marissa Levine as interim health commissioner. Levine has served as chief deputy commissioner for public health and preparedness at the state health department since May. She previously worked as deputy commissioner for public health and preparedness and as director of local health departments in two districts. The office has given no timeframe on the search for a permanent appointment. 

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly is currently in session. 
Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and @vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 or govrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 

HB 206 – Introduced by Patrick Hope, the legislation requires each four-year public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth to create and feature on its website a page with information dedicated solely to the mental health resources available to students at the institution. The bill has been assigned to a Courts subcommittee on Mental Health. 

HB 392 – Introduced by Delegate Chris Stolle, the legislation provides that the commission of an assault or an assault and battery against an emergency health care provider in an emergency room of a hospital or clinic or on the premises of any other facility rendering emergency medical care is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The bill passed in the House (92-Y 2-N). 

Children’s Services:  Reauthorizing CHIP 

On January 22, representatives from Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) and eight allied children’s health organizations met with White House officials to discuss the importance of reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Association and other groups presented a unified voice in support of CHIP reauthorization, detailing the many benefits to children of CHIP coverage including pediatric-specific benefits, adequate provider networks, cost-sharing protections, high actuarial value and high rates of coverage overall. The White House staff stated they were still in early stages of planning for the end of FY 2015, when federal funding for CHIP is set to expire, and that they expected to have a position on the future of CHIP later in 2014. 

Executive Branch Media Talks 

Visit the following links to access President Obama’s regularly scheduled media talks. 

2014 State of the Union Address - Get Ready for the Speech, Participate and Learn More 
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sotu 

 

January 20, 2014


In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Budget Deal Approved 
■ Call to Action on College Opportunity 
■ Reappointment of Agency Heads 
■ State Senate Special Election 
■ 2014 State of the City Address 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ At the State Capitol: Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 
■ Children’s Services: Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for CHGME 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Budget Deal Approved 

After more than six weeks of negotiations between the House and Senate Appropriations Committees a $1.1 trillion spending bill has cleared Congress. The measure passed the House 359-67 on Wednesday and the Senate 72-26 on Thursday

The spending compromise grew out of an agreement negotiated last month by Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Senator Patty Murray (Washington) — leaders respectively of the House and Senate Budget committees. It funds the government through September 30 and eases across-the-board government mandatory spending cuts. 

The final agreement still keeps the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget below 2012 levels, but it does avert about $1 billion in cuts, keeping the total budget at $29.9 billion. The National Science Foundation (NSF) gets $7.2 billion, which is nearly $70 million below what it was meant to get in 2013 and $18.8 million has been allocated for the nation’s poison control centers. 

President Obama signed the budget deal on Friday. 

To view the text of the Omnibus bill and accompanying Report language, visit http://rules.house.gov/bill/113/hr-3547-sa

Call to Action on College Opportunity 

On January 16 the White House hosted a daylong summit that assembled college presidents and dozens of other nonprofit, corporate and foundation leaders to discuss how to better recruit and graduate more students from low-income families. Over 100 new commitments to expand college opportunity were announced. 

While the president urged higher education to do more to expand access to such students, he (and key members of his administration) complimented college leaders on the commitments they had made in that direction. Also speaking at the event was First Lady Michelle Obama, who has adopted higher education as one of her policy priorities for the final few years of her husband’s administration. 

To view the Fact Sheet on The President and First Lady’s Call to Action on College Opportunity, visithttp://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/01/16/fact-sheet-president-and-first-lady-s-call-action-college-opportunity

Reappointment of Agency Heads 

On Wednesday, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the reappointment of seventeen agency heads across his administration. The appointees will join an administration focused on finding common ground on issues that will grow Virginia’s economy and create jobs across the Commonwealth. 

For more information, visit https://governor.virginia.gov/news/newsarticle?articleId=2598

State Senate Special Election 

A state Senate special election will be held on Tuesday in Northern Virginia for the seat formerly held by Attorney General Mark Herring. Democrat Jennifer Wexton, Republican John Whitbeck and veteran Republican state legislator Joe May — running as an independent — are seeking the Loudoun-based seat. 

The special election for Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam 's seat was held January 7, and the State Board of Elections certified Democrat Lynwood Lewis as the winner by nine votes. Lewis’ Republican opponent, Wayne Coleman, filed a petition for a recount on Thursday

Republicans currently hold a 20-18 edge in the state Senate, pending the outcomes of the special elections. If Democrats win both, the state Senate again will be divided 20-20. Northam’s tie-breaking vote on most issues would give Democrats control of the chamber. But if Republicans win either special election, they will have 21 votes and the majority. 

2014 State of the City Address 

City of Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones will deliver the 2014 State of the City Address on Thursday, January 30 at 6:30 p.m. in the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School auditorium, 1000 Mosby Street. The Mayor is expected to detail the focus points of his administration for the future; to include the upcoming City budget, improving the city's aging infrastructure, efforts to revitalize neighborhoods, and reducing poverty. 

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly is currently in session. 
Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and @vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 or govrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 

HB 59 – Introduced by Delegate Kaye Kory, the legislation declares a student eligible for in-state tuition if (i) he has attended a public or private high school in the Commonwealth for at least three years; (ii) he has graduated from a public or private high school in the Commonwealth or has received a General Education Development (GED) certificate in the Commonwealth; (iii) he has registered as an entering student or is enrolled in a public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth; (iv) he has provided an I-797 Approval Notice stating that he has been approved for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and (v) he has submitted evidence that he or, in the case of a dependent student, at least one parent, guardian, or person standing in loco parentis has filed, unless exempted by state law, Virginia income tax returns for at least three years prior to the date of enrollment from recouping amounts calculated from or arising out of specified acts, claims, or methods. It has been referred to the Committee on Education. 

HB 238 – Introduced by Delegate David Ramadan, the bill requires the board of visitors or other governing body of every public institution of higher education to ensure that all funds received from in-state undergraduate tuition are dedicated to the purpose of undergraduate education, that 65 percent of such funds are dedicated to undergraduate instructional expenses, and that 65 percent of all funds received from the Commonwealth for the education and general programs of instruction, academic support, student services, institutional support, and operation and maintenance of the physical plant are dedicated to undergraduate instructional expenses. It has been referred to the Committee on Education, Higher Education Subcommittee. 

Children’s Services:  Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for CHGME 

In the FY 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, funding for Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME), a program that helps children’s hospitals train 6,000 pediatricians annually, is included at $265 million. This is essentially level funding compared with what Congress provided in FY 2012 and the funding included in the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, prior to the application of automatic across-the-board cuts mandated by sequestration. CHGME enables nearly 55 children’s hospitals across the country to train approximately half of the nation’s pediatricians and pediatric specialists. Importantly, the CHGME program has broadened the training experiences of pediatric residents, providing more opportunities for residents to practice in underserved urban and rural areas. 

 

January 13, 2014


In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Short-Term CR Extension 
■ Federal College Ratings System 
■ 48th Annual Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast 
■ Inaugurating Virginia’s 72nd Governor 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ At the State Capitol: Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 
■ Children’s Services: 2014 Child Core Set Update 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Short-Term CR Extension 

Lawmakers are attempting to craft an “omnibus” funding bill that will combine 12 individual annual appropriations bills into one package. The Bipartisan Budget Act signed in December established new (higher) overall limits on discretionary funding for FY 2014 (and FY 2015), restoring some funding cut by sequestration. Over the past few weeks, with these new spending targets in hand, appropriators have been furiously trying to iron out the details on funding levels for the multitude of programs contained in the 12 individual bills. No details have been publicly disclosed on the content of the omnibus bill, including top-line numbers for federal agencies or amounts proposed for individual programs. 

While agreement is expected on the majority of the 12 appropriations bills, it remains to be seen if negotiators will be able to reach a compromise before the deadline. As House-Senate talks continued into the weekend, the Appropriations leadership set in motion Friday plans to move ahead with a three-day extension of the current continuing resolution due to expire onWednesday, January 15

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (Kentucky) signaled that he hopes to have a more permanent yearlong bill drafted early this week. But the short-term CR extension is needed in any case to allow time for the House and Senate to debate and vote on the government-wide package. 

According to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (Maryland) the very short extension is needed to prevent any funding gaps as the agreement moves through the House and Senate. Such an extension has long been anticipated and with bipartisan support and the leadership hopes to be able to move quickly. 

Federal College Ratings System 

The Education Department is convening a panel of experts to make public presentations later this month on how the Obama administration should develop a federal college ratings system. The National Center for Education Statistics, the department’s research arm, will host a symposium on January 22 featuring “experts on empirical methods for measuring performance, metric development, and state and federal postsecondary data and data collection and dissemination infrastructures,” according to a forthcoming department announcement. 

Officials have asked the attendees to make presentations based on the department’s December request for information on how it should piece together a ratings system. In that notice, the Department sought answers to 30 questions, including information on what kinds of data are available, how they should be weighted in a ratings system, and how best to present ratings information to consumers. 

The daylong event will be held at the Education Department’s K Street offices here and will be open to the public. 

48th Annual Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast 

The Virginia General Assembly opened Wednesday with clergy, lobbyists and state and local leaders attending the 48th annual Commonwealth Prayer Breakfast held at the Greater Richmond Convention Center. Each year the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, members of the General Assembly and judiciary, and Virginians from throughout the Commonwealth gather to focus on the power of faith to help lawmakers make tough decisions and remain civil. 

Inaugurating Virginia’s 72nd Governor 

Terence “Terry” R. McAuliffe was sworn in as Virginia’s 72nd governor on Saturday. In his inaugural address, McAuliffe promised transparency and a renewed commitment to finding consensus at the state Capitol. He also called Virginia a “model for fiscal discipline” and by praised former Governor Bob McDonnell. 

Shortly after his swearing-in, McAuliffe signed four executive orders, including one banning discrimination based on sexual orientation in state government, another forbidding him and executive-branch employees from accepting gifts valued at more than $100 and orders delegating powers to chief of staff in case of emergency. The cap on gifts also applies to his immediate family. 

Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring also were sworn in, completing the first full Democratic swing of statewide offices in more than two decades. 

To view the inaugural address, visit https://governor.virginia.gov/newsarticle?articleId=2550

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly is currently in session. Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and@vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 orgovrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

Legislative Proposals Impacting VCU 

HB 28 – Introduced by Delegate Barbara Comstock, the legislation provides that the board of visitors or other governing body of each public institution of higher education, except for the Virginia Military Institute, Norfolk State University, and Virginia State University, must establish rules and regulations requiring that by the start of the 2019-2020 academic year at least 75 percent of students admitted and enrolled at the institution are domiciled in Virginia. It has been referred to the Committee on Education. 

HB 52 – Introduced by Delegate Michael Webert, the legislation directs the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to adopt regulations that establish standards for determining a loss limitation to be included in the calculation of workers' compensation insurance experience modifications when a motor vehicle accident is a not-at-fault motor vehicle accident. It has been referred to the Committee on Commerce and Labor. 

SB 18 – Introduced by Senator Mamie Locke, the legislation provides that good cause for leaving employment exists if an employee voluntarily leaves a job to accompany the employee's spouse, who is on active duty in the military or naval services of the United States, to a new military-related assignment established pursuant to a permanent change of duty order from which the employee's place of employment is not reasonably accessible. It has been referred to the Committee on Commerce and Labor. 

Children’s Services:  2014 Child Core Set Update 

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued the 2014 updates to the child and adult core health care quality measurement sets. Since the release of the initial core set of children’s health care quality measures in 2011, the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) has collaborated with state Medicaid and CHIP agencies to voluntarily collect, report, and use the measures to drive quality improvements. The Secretary is required to publish recommended changes to the core measures annually. For the 2014 Child Core Set update, CMCS will retire three measures from the Child Core Set: Appropriate Testing for Children with Pharyngitis (two to 18 years); Annual Pediatric Hemoglobin A1C Testing (five to 17 years); and Annual Percentage of Asthma Patients who are two to 20 years old with one or more Asthma-related Emergency Department Visits. CMCS is not adding any additional measures to the core set. 

To view the CMCS Informational Bulletin, visit http://medicaid.gov/Federal-Policy-Guidance/Downloads/CIB-12-19-13.pdf

 

January 6, 2014

 

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Unfinished Business from 2013 
■ White House Summit on Higher Education 
■ Task Force on Improving Mental Health 
■ McAuliffe Cabinet Slots Filled 
■ The 2014 Inauguration 
■ 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 
■ Children’s Services: Government Relations Planning Meeting 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Unfinished Business from 2013 

The House plans to spend a chunk of January tending to unfinished business from 2013, completing a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill among other matters. Staff for appropriators have been preparing throughout the holiday break. Aides say progress on the 12-part omnibus legislation has been better than expected at the subcommittee level, and their goal remains to pass the bill through both chambers before the deadline on January 15

Some obstacles remain on both funding levels for specific projects and on some of the dozens of policy riders that have been proposed during the course of 2013. The bill is being developed according to the $1.012 trillion top-line spending cap in the budget agreement forged by Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Senator Patty Murray (Washington) and signed into law by President Obama. Sixty-two House Republicans voted against the budget largely because it exceeded the $967 billion spending cap already on the books for fiscal 2014.   

House-Senate negotiators are slated to meet this week in hopes of narrowing their last differences over the spending bill. 

White House Summit on Higher Education 

The Obama administration will host a White House meeting with college leaders to discuss how to boost the success of low-income students in higher education. The summit will take place on January 16 and leaders from higher education, philanthropy, business and city and state governments are expected to take part in the daylong event. As part of the event, the administration has been seeking voluntary commitments from colleges on how they plan to increase efforts to help low-income students.   

Sources have said the White House wants participants to set a goal in several general areas. They include improvements in remedial education success rates, increased enrollment of lower-income students or ramped-up student support services, such as hiring more counselors or improving the delivery of student advising. Also in the mix might be new student-success related partnerships across sectors, such as between four-year institutions, community colleges and high schools. 

Colleges were asked to make commitments that included major improvements, preferably quantifiable ones. In written materials that accompanied the invitation, the White House described examples of “dramatic achievements” by colleges – such as double-digit increases in remedial course pass rates. Remediation is widely seen as one of the biggest barriers to improving college completion. Another suggestion the White House has floated in the past is for colleges to pledge to substantially increase the percentage of Pell Grant-eligible students they enroll. 

Task Force on Improving Mental Health 

Governor McDonnell has announced the membership for the newly-created Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response. The membership includes leaders in the mental health field, law enforcement communities, the judicial system, private hospitals, and individuals receiving mental health services and their families. The group will review existing services and challenges in Virginia's mental health system and make recommendations, including legislative and budget proposals, for critical improvements to mental health procedures, programs and services. 

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=2154

McAuliffe Cabinet Slots Filled   

Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has filled his final Cabinet slots by nominating Admiral John Harvey Jr., a retired four-star Navy admiral to serve as secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security and children’s advocate Anne Holton, a former first lady and judge, to be education secretary. Maurice Jones, a former newspaper publisher and government official will serve as secretary of commerce and trade and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore will serve another term. Former Hampton Mayor Molly Joseph Ward will take over as secretary of natural resources. All twelve Cabinet nominees must be confirmed by the General Assembly. 

The 2014 Inauguration 

The ceremonial oath and swearing in of Terry McAuliffe as Virginia’s 72nd governor will take place at Capitol Square onSaturday, January 11, 2014 at 12 p.m. The celebration includes day of service events around the state. Approximately 5,000 people are expected to attend and the governor’s mansion will open to the public for an open house. Attorney General-elect Mark Herring and Lieutenant Governor-elect Ralph Northam will also be sworn in Saturday at the state Capitol. 

For more information, visit http://www.inauguration2014.com/

2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly 

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly will convene on Wednesday, January 8, at 12 noon. Members will meet for 60 days this session To view the session calendar, please visit http://dls.virginia.gov/pubs/calendar/cal2014_2.pdf

Legislative session information including daily House and Senate convene and adjourn times can be found at each body's respective twitter accounts, @vahouse and @vasenate. To view the university and health system state legislative priorities, highlights, bill tracking lists and more, visit the Office of Government Relations’ website at www.govrel.vcu.edu. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 828-1235 or govrel@vcu.edu if you have questions or need assistance. 

Children’s Services:  Government Relations Planning Meeting 

Children’s Hospital Association recently hosted the 2013 Government Relations Planning Meeting in Arlington, Virginia. Representatives from member hospitals gathered to discuss building state-level coalitions; provider networks and ongoing efforts to influence federal policies affecting provider networks in the Exchanges; mental health and the availability of resources related to pediatric implications of the Mental Health Parity Act; and Social Media. Attendees also offered input on the 2014 public policy priorities. CHA will use the information to build their policy agenda moving forward. 

 

December 16, 2013


In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Senate Begins Procedural Process on the Budget
■ ACA and the Nation’s Education System
■ Budget Proposals to Expand Crisis Response
■ Governor’s Higher Education Budget Proposal
■ Moran Appointed Virginia's Next Secretary of Public Safety
■ Children’s Services: House Passes Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act
■ Office Holiday Schedule
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Senate Begins Procedural Process on the Budget

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1193304!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/reid27n-1-web.jpgSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) started the procedural process Sunday so that the Senate can debate and pass the budget and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before leaving for the Christmas holiday.

Reid filed cloture on the budget deal brokered by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (Washington) and her House counterpart, Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin), which would end $63 billion of sequester spending cuts, and add in new fees and some federal savings to cut the budget deficit by $23 billion more in 2014.

The budget passed the House 332-94, but Reid will need at least five Republicans to join Democrats in ending debate on the measure. Most Senate Republicans have criticized the plan for not reducing the deficit solely through spending cuts. Similarly, the House passed the NDAA bill 350-69, which bodes well for Senate passage. The bill is a new version of the NDAA that was developed over the last two weeks, after it became clear that debate in the Senate over amendments would stall passage until sometime in 2014.

The Senate is expected to consider the budget deal Tuesday and NDAA Wednesday.

ACA and the Nation’s Education System

Republican leaders on the House Education and the Workforce Committee released a letter seeking feedback from the American people about the effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the nation’s education system. The letter is the committee’s latest effort to examine the impact of the health care law on K-12 schools, universities, and colleges.

To read the full letter, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/12-11-13_public_ltr_ed_hc.pdf.

Budget Proposals to Expand Crisis Response

On Tuesday, Governor McDonnell announced budget proposals to expand crisis response and crisis prevention services for Virginia's behavioral health system. The governor's proposals would infuse $38.3 million over the biennium into critical mental health and substance-use disorder programs. Separately, funding for the DOJ mental health and training center settlement and DMAS resources, a total of $95.8 million, will be provided during the next biennium. Governor McDonnell also announced through Executive Order 68 the convening of a Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response. The Task Force calls for leaders in the mental health field, law enforcement communities, the judicial system and private hospitals along with individuals receiving mental health services and their families to seek and recommend solutions that will improve Virginia's mental health crisis services and help prevent crises from developing.

More information on Executive Order 68 is available online at http://www.governor.virginia.gov/PolicyOffice/ExecutiveOrders/.

Governor’s Higher Education Budget Proposal

Governor McDonnell has announced that his FY 2015/2016 budget will include $183.1 million over the biennium in new support of Virginia's colleges and universities. The governor's proposed new funding will help the Commonwealth achieve the goals of the historic "Top Jobs" legislation (Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011), put forward by McDonnell, that has the state on the path to generating 100,000 additional degrees and certifications over the next 15 years, is reducing the growth of tuition, and enhancing access to higher education.

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=2124.

Moran Appointed Virginia's Next Secretary of Public Safety

Brian Moran, a former legislator and state Democratic Party chairman, has been named secretary of public safety by Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe. Photo by Jason SpencerBrian Moran, a former Arlington prosecutor, state legislator and state Democratic Party chairman, has been appointed Virginia's next secretary of public safety. Moran served as a prosecutor for seven years in Arlington. From 1996 to 2008, he represented Virginia's 46th District in the state House of Delegates. That district includes parts of Alexandria and Fairfax County and is currently represented by Democratic Delegate Charniele Herring, who is also now head of the state Democratic Party. Moran served as Democratic Party of Virginia chairman from December 2010 to December 2012.

Children’s Services:  House Passes Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act

The House of Representatives voted to pass the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act of 2013, by a bipartisan vote of 295-103. The bill terminates funding from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund for political party conventions. This funding (estimated at $126 million over 10 years) is then authorized to be spent on pediatric medical research activities through the Common Fund at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To ensure that funding goes towards pediatric research the bill directs that the spending be drawn from a new Pediatric Research Initiative Fund. H.R. 2019 was originally introduced by Republican Representative Gregg Harper (Mississippi), who has a child with Fragile X syndrome, and was strongly supported by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Virginia).

Office Holiday Schedule

happy-holidays The VCU Office of Government Relations will be closed on Monday, December 23, 2013 through Wednesday, January 1, 2014. If you require assistance during the closing, please call (804) 828-1235, leave a detailed message, and a staff person will follow-up with you. Weekly legislative updates will resume during the week of January 5, 2014. Happy holidays from your friends in Government Relations.

 

 

November 25, 2013

 

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Short-Term Continuing Resolution 
■ Pilot Program to Fund Innovations in Higher Education 
■ Race for Attorney General 
■ Money Committees Hold Annual Retreats 
■ McAuliffe Announces Cabinet Appointees 
■ Prefiling Period Begins 
■ Children’s Services: Basic Training on TRICARE for Kids 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Short-Term Continuing Resolution     

As the budget conference committee continues to work toward an agreement that would set spending levels for the remainder of this fiscal year and fiscal 2015, House Republicans are contemplating a fallback plan — a short-term continuing resolution that would fund the government through April 15 and buy budget negotiators more time to strike a long-term deal. 

According to multiple lawmakers familiar with the situation, budget negotiators in both parties are hopeful that the foundation for a long-term deal could be laid in December. However, the details may not be solidified before the December 13 deadline — the day lawmakers leave town for the holiday recess. 

At the same time, the current government-funding bill expires January 15, and House members do not return to Washington until January 7. To eliminate the threat of another government shutdown, and to ease the pressure on the conference committee, House Republicans expect to pass a three-month CR before leaving town on December 13. Republicans say any such temporary funding bill would be based on spending levels set out in the 2011 Budget Control Act. 

That strategy is a problem for some lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Unless current law is changed, the act's scheduled across-the-board new cuts to military and domestic programs will deepen to $109 billion from $85 billion, as federal discretionary spending overall will be reduced from a level of $988 billion to $967 billion. The Department of Defense would absorb $20 billion more in fiscal 2014 cuts than it did in fiscal 2013 — something that many lawmakers in both parties say would be devastating, whether their respective concerns lean more heavily toward military or domestic programs. 

Pilot Program to Fund Innovations in Higher Education 

Senators Christopher Murphy (Connecticut) and Brian Schatz (Hawaii) are expected to introduce legislation in December that would create a competitive pilot program to fund innovations in higher education, aimed to bring down costs and reduce the time needed to complete a degree. The fund would support innovations in online courses, competency-based degrees, dual-enrollment programs and accelerated degrees. 

Currently, institutions that want to experiment with many of those nontraditional programs have to ask the Education Department on an individual basis for a waiver from federal standards. The proposal would provide a blanket authorization to the programs. In addition, the legislation will condition the receipt of federal student aid at all institutions on meeting certain standards. 

Other efforts afoot on Capitol Hill and elsewhere to promote online innovations in higher education have focused on changes to the nation’s accreditation and financial aid systems. All of those issues are expected to receive increased attention from lawmakers as Congress embarks on a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. 

Race for Attorney General 

Of the 2.2 million ballots cast in the race for attorney general, State Senator Mark Herring (Loudoun) leads state Senator Mark Obenshain (Harrisonburg) by 164 votes. Herring has declared victory, but due to the slim margin there is certain to be a recount. The State Board of Elections will certify votes on Monday, November 25. 

Money Committees Hold Annual Retreats   

Last week the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees held their respective annual meetings. Topics for discussion included Virginia’s economic and budget outlook, faculty compensation, retention and recruitment, VRS, and an update on Medicaid Expansion in Virginia, among other matters. 

For more information and to access copies of the presentations, visit http://sfc.virginia.gov/annual_retreat.shtml andhttp://hac.virginia.gov/

McAuliffe Announces Cabinet Appointees 

Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe has identified the first appointments to his cabinet. Appointments include Secretary of Finance Richard 'Ric' Brown who will remain in the position overseeing the state budget and state funds; Levar Stoney, McAuliffe’s campaign adviser, will serve as secretary of the commonwealth; and Aubrey Layne, a member of the Commonwealth Transportation Board, will serve as secretary of transportation. McAuliffe has also named Paul Reagan, who was chief of staff to former Senator Jim Webb, to serve as chief of staff and Suzette Denslow, currently the chief of staff to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones, to be deputy chief of staff. 

Prefiling Period Begins 

The prefiling period of the 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly began on Monday, November 18. During this period, legislation is posted on the Legislative Information System website. As it becomes available, designated VCU and VCUHS faculty and staff may begin to receive copies of relevant legislation for review, feedback or "FYI." Please contact Kendall Lee atleekl@vcu.edu or 827-3890, if you have questions. 

Children’s Services:  Basic Training on TRICARE for Kids 

On November 19, the Children’s Hospital Association and allied organizations in collaboration with the congressional Military Family Caucus hosted a briefing entitled, “Military Kids Matter: Basic Training on TRICARE for Kids.” The briefing was a great success with an engaged audience and standing room only. Kathy Beasley, Military Officers Association of America, provided a brief summary of TRICARE and the challenges families face accessing care. Melissa House, a military parent of children with medical complexity, depicted on the reality of navigating the TRICARE system for her children. Finally, Dr. Kelly Komatz of Wolfson Children’s Hospital presented on the Wolfson Center for the Medically Complex Child and the Association’s proposal for children with medical complexity. 

 

November 18, 2013



In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Budget Negotiations Continue 
■ Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act 
■ Herring and Obenshain Name Transition Teams 
■ Annual Retreats to be Held 
■ Richmond Public and Community Service Award 
■ Children’s Services: Briefing on Early Childhood in Virginia 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Budget Negotiations Continue     

Congressional budget negotiators met in public for a second time Wednesday but reported little progress toward an agreement. 

Both sides hope to agree on a plan to replace automatic cuts to agency spending — known as the sequester — with more considered reductions to other parts of the federal budget. That would permit Congress to set a funding level for federal agencies in the fiscal year that began October 1 and keep the government open past a January 15 deadline. 

Currently, both parties disagree about how to replace the sequester, which is set to reduce agency budgets by about $109 billion a year through 2021. Health spending is a target, but Democrats say they will take steps to reduce federal health benefits only if Republicans agree to close a few of the hundreds of loopholes that litter the tax code, reducing federal revenue by more than $1 trillion a year. 

Senior Republicans say they would rather live with the sequester — despite an additional $20 billion cut scheduled to hit the Pentagon in January — than agree to replace existing spending cuts with potential tax increases. Tax loopholes should be eliminated, they say, but the savings should be returned to taxpayers in the form of lower rates as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the federal tax code, not used to increase government spending. 

Panelists from both parties who serve on the House Appropriations Committee have pleaded with their colleagues to set aside their differences and settle on a spending level for fiscal 2014 that would get rid of at least a portion of the sequester and let them pass appropriations bills for most agencies. 

Hearings on Reauthorizing the Higher Education Act 

Members of Congress last week heard from higher education advocates and researchers on ways to restructure the federal government’s student aid programs as lawmakers continue their series of hearings on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. The education committees in both chambers convened separate hearings Wednesday and Thursday to discuss various ways to change federal student aid. Lawmakers heard about simplifying the administrative barriers for students applying for aid, restructuring Pell Grants to better incentivize completion, and improving income-based repayment options for student borrowers.

Lawmakers on both sides appeared to be in agreement that the application process to apply for federal aid needs to be simpler. Both Senators Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), respectively the Democratic chair and Republican ranking member of the Senate education committee, agrees there was a general consensus on simplifying the process by which students apply for federal aid. 

Herring and Obenshain Name Transition Teams 

In the race for attorney general, the State Board of Elections has updated the count to reflect provisional ballots from Fairfax County. State Senator Mark Herring now leads by 164 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast. Herring declared victory late Tuesday night, but State Senator Mark Obenshain did not concede and the contest could be headed for a recount. Because the vote margin remains narrow, both Herring and Obenshain have begun to prepare for a potential transition and have named members of their transition teams. 

The five co-chairs of Herring's transition team include Gabriel Morgan of Newport News, Anne Holton of Richmond, Michael Doucette of Lynchburg, Jeffrey Novak of Prince William County, and Shannon Taylor of Henrico County. David Hallock, deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Senator Mark Warner, will lead Herring's transition. Obenshain’s transition co-chairs include former state Chief Deputy Attorney General Chuck James, former state Delegate Jerry Kilgore, former state Attorney General Andy Miller, and Lisa Caruso of Dinwiddie County. 

Annual Retreats to be Held 

The House of Delegates Appropriations Committee Annual Retreat will be held on November 19-20 at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center in Roanoke, Virginia. In addition, the Senate Finance Committee Annual Meeting will be held on November 21-22 at the Williamsburg Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. Topics for discussion are expected to include Virginia’s economic and budget outlook, faculty compensation, retention and recruitment, VRS, and an update on Medicaid Expansion in Virginia, among other matters. 

For more information, visit http://sfc.virginia.gov/annual_retreat.shtml and http://hac.virginia.gov/

Richmond Public and Community Service Award 

Mary Slade, Ph.D., executive director of VCU ASPiRE and 22 students were recognized at the November 11 Richmond City Council meeting. The group was presented with the “Richmond Public and Community Service Award,” in recognition of the work by ASPiRE and its students “in helping to make Richmond and even better place to live, love, work, play, visit and raise a family.” 

VCU ASPiRE was nominated for the award by 7th District Councilwoman Cynthia Newbill. Launched last year, VCU ASPiRE is an innovative and comprehensive community engagement-focused living-learning program that aims to enrich and deepen students’ understanding of their capacity to create positive change in communities through the connection of course work, co-curricular activities and a vibrant residential experience. 

Children’s Services:  Briefing on Early Childhood in Virginia 

On Wednesday, Voices for Virginia’s Children conducted a Briefing on Early Childhood in Virginia. The Briefing was held at the Partnership for Families-Northside in Richmond and area stakeholders were provided with a review of Virginia’s standards on early childhood education. Voices also translated the data and recommendations from several recent reports into the reality that Virginia’s early childhood stakeholders and leaders must address in the upcoming months and years. Delegate Chris Peace (Hanover) offered comments at the close of the Briefing. 

To view the Briefing notes, visit http://vakids.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Synthesis-Presentation-notes.pdf

 

November 11, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: GOP Senators Discuss Budget Alternatives
■ SERVE Act
■ 2013 Statewide Student Survey
■ Election Day Results
■ McAuliffe Transition Team Announced
■ Children’s Services: Learning Network on Improving Birth Outcomes
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: GOP Senators Discuss Budget Alternatives      

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) has established a group of about a dozen GOP senators to come up with budget alternatives in case the bicameral conference committee fails to reach a deal. McConnell's group, which represents a cross section of the conference, met Wednesday afternoon to explore the options in case they face a similar situation if the budget conference committee fails to meet its January 15 deadline.

Lawmakers who participated in the meeting say the number one goal of the group is to coalesce around the demand that any budget deal reached by next January maintain the spending cuts established by the 2011 Budget Control Act. The group’s second priority is to give federal agencies and Congress more flexibility to manage spending levels established under sequestration. A third priority is to achieve savings in mandatory spending programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Most lawmakers in the group have ruled out raising taxes as part of any medium-sized deal to fund government through 2014 and turn off sequestration. If the Senate-House conference cannot agree to a budget resolution by December 13, it will likely fall to McConnell again to negotiate a fiscal deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada).

SERVE Act

Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia) has announced the Servicemember Education Reform and Vocational Enhancement (SERVE) Act of 2013. The SERVE Act, which is a companion to Kaine’s first bill, the Troop Talent Act, will improve the quality of education received by servicemembers and veterans. The legislation will also create pilot programs to facilitate the use of veterans’ education benefits for employment and on-the-job training programs and will require that institutions accepting Veterans Administration (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) education benefits provide access to academic or career counseling.

For more information, visit http://www.kaine.senate.gov/kaine-to-announce-bill-to-improve-veterans-education.

2013 Statewide Student Survey

http://www.virginia21.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Student-Survey-Front1.pngVirginia21 is currently conducting the 2013 Statewide Student Survey to gather the opinions and experiences of Virginia’s undergraduates. The survey asks students to give feedback on the quality of their education, financial situation, and plans for finding a job. Virginia21 uses the information to advocate for greater higher education investment. Students who participate have a chance at winning $250!

To view the survey, visit http://www.virginia21.org/survey/takethesurvey/.

Election Day Results

With all precincts now reporting, Terry McAuliffe has been elected Governor over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. In the Lieutenant Governor’s race, Senator Ralph Northam defeated his opponent, Bishop E. W. Jackson.

The race for Attorney General is the only one still undecided. Republican State Senator Mark Obenshain is holding a razor slim vote lead over Democratic State Senator Mark Herring. However, these numbers continue to fluctuate as local voting registrars recheck their totals and correct transcription errors. And the results are likely to continue shifting, with provisional ballots unreported in Fairfax County. This race may head for a recount; however that action cannot happen until after the State Board of Elections certifies the election results on November 25. After that, the candidate behind may formally request the recount.

All 100 seats in the House of Delegates were up for election, although only 55 of those were contested either by a candidate of the opposite party or an Independent. The Republicans will maintain a 67-33 majority in that body. In the actual results, Democrats lost no incumbents, but did lose one open seat while the Republicans lost two incumbents, but picked up one Democrat open seat and an open seat previously held by an Independent.

The Senate was split 20-20 prior to the election, but the outcomes in the Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General races will create vacancies in the Senate that will necessitate special elections that could swing the balance of power to the Republicans in that body. While Lieutenant Governor-elect Northam will have the potential to now break the 20-20 tie in the Senate in favor of the Democrats, his State Senate seat is considered a swing district that is not guaranteed to remain in the Democratic post.

McAuliffe Transition Team Announced

Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe on Wednesday announced his transition team and reiterated his pledge to govern in a bipartisan manner over the next four years. In keeping with his bipartisan message, McAuliffe announced a transition team that reflects members from both parties. Delegate Jennifer McClellan (71st House District) will chair the transition team, along with John Chichester, a former state senator from Stafford. Transition team co-chairs also include Nancy Rodrigues, the former head of the State Board of Elections who served as treasurer of McAuliffe's campaign, and Whitt Clement, a former delegate from Danville who served as Transportation secretary under Governor Mark Warner. Paul Reagan, a former official in the Warner Administration, who most recently served as chief of staff to U.S. Senator Jim Webb, was named transition director. McAuliffe also appointed Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and Charlottesville based bestselling author John Grisham and his wife, Renee, to chair his inaugural committee.

Children’s Services:  Learning Network on Improving Birth Outcomes

http://quadcitiesdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/national-governors-assoc.jpgVirginia has been selected to be a part of the National Governor’s Association’s (NGA) Learning Network on Improving Birth Outcomes. The learning network is a co-op among the NGA, the Health Resources and Services Administration and the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) and was launched in January 2113. There are eight states that have already completed a learning network but now Virginia has been selected along with Alabama, Arizona, Nevada and New Jersey to participate in this project. The learning network is not a new initiative, but is intended to meet states where they are currently in their efforts to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes. The learning network is a 3-month activity where the state holds an in-state workshop with key stakeholders to raise awareness on infant mortality reduction efforts.

 

November 4, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Budget Conference Committee Meets
■ College Board Report Series
■ Capital Region Collaborative Action Plan
■ General Election Day 2013
■ MSV Annual Meeting
■ Children’s Services: Senate Approves CHGME Reauthorization
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Budget Conference Committee Meets      

Members of the budget conference committee gathered on Wednesday for the first formal budget talks since Congress reached an agreement to reopen the government and to temporarily raise the nation’s borrowing authority. One of the biggest sticking points in the negotiations is over what to do with the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts, known as sequestration.

The stopgap legislation that is currently funding the government left in place the sequester cuts that took effect earlier this year, but that funding measure expires on January 15 – the same day that another round of budget reductions are slated to kick in unless Congress acts.

The members of the committee have a self-imposed December 13 deadline to reach an agreement. Co-chaired by Republican Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) and Democratic Senator Patty Murray (Washington), members are tasked with resolving the $91 billion gap between the budgets proposed by the two chambers.

The House-passed Republican budget would cap discretionary spending at $967 billion – below the current spending level carried forward into this year, $986 billion. That budget would also lessen the burden on defense programs by shifting most of the cuts to other areas of the budget, which includes education and research. The Senate, meanwhile, has proposed removing the sequestration cuts for the rest of the current fiscal year and setting a top-line level of discretionary spending at $1.058 trillion. A Senate committee, working within that level, has proposed boosting funding for the National Institutes of Health and raising the maximum Pell Grant award.

College Board Report Series

http://www.collegeparents.org/sites/default/files/college_board_logo.pngThe College Board has released a report series that provides the latest information on student financial aid, tuition and other expenses associated with attending college and illustrates trends over time. The reports help students, families, institutions and policymakers understand published college prices and financial aid.

To view the report series, visit http://trends.collegeboard.org/home.

Capital Region Collaborative Action Plan

On October 29, the Capital Region Collaborative delivered the first public presentation of an action plan defining ways to improve the economic vitality, social stability and quality of life across the nine localities composing Greater Richmond. The plan advances the collective wisdom of hundreds of volunteers, seven formal work groups, a guiding coalition of government and business representatives, and the invited suggestions from the residents of the Richmond Region. Healthy community and social stability, quality place, the James River, regional coordinated transportation, job creation and workforce preparation are the seven priorities that now have confirmed aspirations, goals and specific strategies. The action plan is fostering a renewed environment for collaboration in Richmond and could emerge as a contemporary value of the region.

For more information, visit http://www.capitalregioncollaborative.com/.

General Election Day 2013

http://www.pbpp.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_126668_5357_699500_43/http%3B/pubcontent.state.pa.us/publishedcontent/publish/cop_public_safety/pbpp/voting_rights_text/vote.jpgTuesday, November 5, 2013 marks General Election day. Please remember on election day the polling locations will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia residents are encouraged to check their registration status and polling place on the State Board of Elections’ website at www.vote.virginia.gov, by contacting their local registrar’s office, or by contacting the State Board of Elections toll free at 1-800-552-9745.

Election Day 2013 features three statewide elections and all 100 House of Delegates seats are on the ballot No state Senate seats are up this year.

MSV Annual Meeting

On October 25 – 27, Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) held its 2013 Annual Meeting at The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia. Delegates elected new officers and directors, including president Sterling Ransone Jr., M.D., FAAFP. MSV reference committees successfully vetted a variety of resolutions and were able to make recommendations to the House of Delegates (HOD) about issues including potential changes to MSV’s governance structure and process, adoption of new MSV policy and support of efforts to lessen the administrative burden on today’s medical practices. Also during the meeting, participants learned about effective message development for advocacy from communications expert Roy Heffley.

For more information, visit http://www.msv.org/annualmeeting.

Children’s Services:  Senate Approves CHGME Reauthorization

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (H.E.L.P.) Committee has approved by unanimous, voice vote S. 1557, the Children’s Hospital GME Support Reauthorization Act of 2013. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Robert Casey Jr. (Pennsylvania) and Johnny Isakson (Georgia), advances children’s health by reauthorizing through FY 2018 the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program, which provides federal support for the training of pediatricians and pediatric specialists at independent children’s teaching hospitals across the country.

 

October 28, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Democratic Strategy for New Budget Talks
■ The Evolving Role of Higher Education
■ Final Gubernatorial Debate
■ General Election Day
■ VCU Government Relations Welcomes New Director
■ Children’s Services: CHGME Reauthorization
■ Office of Health Innovation: New Guidance on Enrolling in Coverage
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Democratic Strategy for New Budget Talks      

President Obama began laying out his strategy for new budget talks Friday, saying that efforts to cut the budget should not short-change essential programs like education. He hosted a conference call with Democratic leaders ahead of a scheduled House-Senate budget conference meeting to urge those lawmakers to back policies that bolster the economy and middle class jobs.

During the call the President spoke to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (California), Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (Washington), and House Budget Committee Ranking Member Chris Van Hollen (Maryland). According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the President thanked the leaders for their efforts to find solutions to the budget challenges and reiterated the shared principle of economic growth.

The bill to end the government shutdown and extend the debt ceiling also authorized new budget negotiations between congressional Republicans and Democrats. Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) will begin budget talks on October 30.

The Evolving Role of Higher Education

ImageThe Hamilton Project recently hosted a forum focusing on the evolving role of higher education in American society and released three new policy proposals by outside experts on how changes in student lending and financial-aid policies can help improve college outcomes. Thought leaders in higher education from around the country participated. Two roundtable discussions focused on the new policy proposals addressing ways to strengthen the Pell Grant program to meet the needs of a modern economy, reform the federal student loan repayment system, and expand the availability of information on the “net” vs. “sticker” price of attending college. A panel, moderated by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, also addressed key questions currently facing policymakers.

For more information on the policy proposals, visit http://www.hamiltonproject.org/files/downloads_and_links/Paper_Summaries_10-2.pdf.
Final Gubernatorial Debate

On Thursday night Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe faced off in their final showdown before the November election. The debate was held in the Haymarket Theatre at Squires Student Center on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg. WDBJ news anchor Jean Jadhon served as the moderator. The two discussed jobs, coal, schools, and gun control. They also answered questions about how they would grow jobs in Virginia, especially in the southwest region. Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis did not participate in the debate, but appeared in Richmond on Saturday at a forum with McAuliffe and Cuccinelli. Since the debate, the candidates have been attending events with high-profile supporters to energize their political bases.

General Election Day

http://www.pbpp.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/gateway/PTARGS_0_2_126668_5357_699500_43/http%3B/pubcontent.state.pa.us/publishedcontent/publish/cop_public_safety/pbpp/voting_rights_text/vote.jpgTuesday, November 5, 2013 marks General Election day. Please remember on election day the polling locations will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Virginia residents are encouraged to check their registration status and polling place on the State Board of Elections’ website at www.vote.virginia.gov, by contacting their local registrar’s office, or by contacting the State Board of Elections toll free at 1-800-552-9745.

VCU Government Relations Welcomes New Director

The Office of Government Relations is pleased to welcome Matthew Conrad as Director. Prior to joining VCU, Matt most recently served as Governor McDonnell’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Counselor, assisting the Governor and Chief of Staff through the planning, administration, and management of state government, consisting of state agencies, boards, and commissions; the development of the Commonwealth’s biennial budget; as well as provision of legal counsel. Additionally, as part of the administration’s government reform efforts, Matt worked to successfully streamline and enhance the operations of the executive branch. Matt will assume his new role on Friday, November 1. He can be reached at maconrad@vcu.edu and 804-827-0084.

Children’s Services:  CHGME Reauthorization

On Wednesday, October 30, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (H.E.L.P.) Committee is scheduled to consider S. 1557, the new CHGME reauthorization bill introduced by Senators Robert Casey, Jr. (Pennsylvania), and Johnny Isakson (Georgia). Children’s Hospital Association has endorsed the legislation and urges the Committee to report it out favorably at markup.

Office of Health Innovation: New Guidance on Enrolling in Coverage

The Obama administration has issued guidance that delays imposing penalties for six weeks on some consumers who might have been caught in a timing problem for enrolling in coverage through the marketplace. There is currently a disconnect between the open enrollment and individual responsibility time frames in the first year. While the law allows consumers to be without coverage for less than three consecutive months without a fine, to have insurance by March 1 – and spend no more than two months next year without coverage – consumers would have to choose a policy by February 15. The guidance will ensure that if consumers sign up for insurance by March 31, they will not face a penalty. This is not a delay of the individual mandate and is not related to the healthcare.gov website issues. Please contact Ross Arrington, Health Policy Analyst at airingtonrk@vcu.edu if you have questions or need more information.

 

October 21, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014
■ Baccalaureate and Beyond Study
■ Spotlight on VCU Research
■ Community Leadership Forum on Medicaid Reform and Expansion
■ Cuccinelli Delivers Weekly GOP Response
■ Children’s Services: Report on Medicaid Federal and State Spending
■ Concerns about Misleading Insurance Exchange Websites
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014      

https://encrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR5RrAl5SmNEa2SsZ5i6w_ltzbtLocQYGlGh7-aIP7id1SnOOMtyQThe measure, formally known as the “Continuing Appropriations Act, 2014,” was passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Obama shortly after midnight on October 17. The legislation suspends the debt ceiling until February 7 and provides sufficient funding to reopen the government for the next three months (through January 15). It applies retroactively through October 1, 2013.

The across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester, which were adopted as part of the agreement that ended the 2011 debt ceiling and were implemented earlier this year, remain in effect. Also, the Government’s authority to borrow money is extended until February 7. As part of the agreement, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) must certify it can verify income eligibility of people applying for government subsidies for health insurance. By July 1, the department’s inspector general must report on the agency’s safeguards for preventing fraud.

To address longer-term issues, the agreement also establishes a congressional budget conference that will negotiate over issues like budget deficits and spending levels. That will be overseen by Senator Patty Murray (Washington) and Representative Paul Ryan (Wisconsin), who head their respective chambers’ budget committees. Bargainers must issue report by December 13, 2013, but they are not required to come to agreement.

Baccalaureate and Beyond Study

Students who completed an undergraduate program in 2007-20088 were more likely to borrow money to pay for college. However, students were less likely to be repaying those loans within a year of graduation compared with their counterparts who graduated in 1992-93 and 1999-2000, a new federal report shows. The report, released Thursday, analyzes the borrowing and repayment trends of bachelor’s degree recipients within a year of graduation for three cohorts of students. The data were collected through the Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study from the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics.

To view the report, visit http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2014/2014011.pdf.

Spotlight on VCU Research
http://wp.vcu.edu/vcuurop/files/2013/04/cropped-new-urop1.jpg
The VCU Office of Government Relations in collaboration with the VCU Office of Research, on Tuesday hosted a legislative luncheon and research poster session highlighting 33 VCU Institutes and Centers and some academic units. Central Virginia legislators and legislative aides were invited to discuss with VCU faculty and staff the opportunities to translate academic research into public policy.

The luncheon was held on the Monroe Park Campus and opening remarks were provided by Dr. Michael Rao, VCU President. Remarks were also provided by Dr. Bev Warren, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO, VCU Health System and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences.

Community Leadership Forum on Medicaid Reform and Expansion

On Friday, VCU Health System, Bon Secours Virginia, and HCA Capital Division, in collaboration with Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) hosted a community leadership forum on Medicaid Reform and Expansion in Richmond. Business and community leaders from across the region met with hospital representatives to discuss the achievement of meaningful reform that will drive greater quality, control cost growth, and maintain the viability of Medicare and Medicaid. Members of the Medicaid Innovation Reform Commission (MIRC) were invited to attend.

Cuccinelli Delivers Weekly GOP Response

The Republican Party selected Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to deliver Saturday's GOP's response to president Obama's weekly radio and internet address. Cuccinelli discussed the Affordable Care Act, its effect on the economy and jobs. He criticized the law’s impact on businesses and other institutions and discussed problems with the law’s launch.
 
To view Cuccinelli’s response, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOas487a4Z8&list=UUOKW-o3oYdFmrMNcTLVuaoA&feature=player_embedded.

Children’s Services:  Report on Medicaid Federal and State Spending

Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, LLC (Dobson | DaVanzo), commissioned by the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), has completed a report which presents the context, methodology, and findings of creating a new payment and delivery system for medically complex children (MCC) within the Medicaid program over a 10-year period (2014-2023). This payment and delivery system would take the form of nationally designated pediatric networks and would be established based on a legislative proposal developed by CHA in collaboration with a coalition of member hospitals. The goal of the legislative proposal is to more effectively address the complex needs of these patients by enhancing care coordination, which involves care outside of the hospital.

To view a copy of the report, visit http://www.childrenshospitals.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=N_A_C_H_News_and_Resources&Template=/MembersOnly.cfm&NavMenuID=5197&ContentID=68342.

Concerns about Misleading Insurance Exchange Websites

https://www.mint.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/What-You-Need-to-Know-About-Obamacare-and-Health-Insurance-Exchanges.jpgInsurance regulators in some states are cautioning consumers to be aware of lookalike or soundalike websites that may mislead them into thinking they are on official Affordable Care Act (ACA) state or federal government websites. The official ACA website is healthcare.gov, which provides links to both state-run and federal-run insurance exchanges or marketplaces.

Because Virginia opted not to set up a state exchange, Virginians have to go to healthcare.gov to shop for health plans. Virginia insurance regulators are aware of the concerns about misleading insurance exchange websites and consumer fraud experts from state and federal agencies are meeting on a regular basis to monitor for fraud in the insurance marketplaces.

 

October 14, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Negotiations Among Republicans and Democrats Continue
■ Medical Schools and Clinical Conflicts of Interest
■ Richmond City Announces Medicaid Application Changes
■ Deputy Secretaries Selected to Fill Vacating Positions
■ MIRC Scheduled to Meet
■ Children’s Services: Sec. 1557 of the Affordable Care Act
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Negotiations Among Republicans and Democrats Continue     

Democrats have decided to intensify pressure on Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky) instead of accepting a deal that locks in automatic spending cuts known as sequestration and makes reforms to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Democratic leaders have instead urged Republicans to support a clean bill to raise the debt limit.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) and McConnell did little direct negotiating on Sunday. The two leaders spoke by phone for about five or six minutes, according to a source familiar with the call. Reid characterized the conversation as substantive and said he was optimistic about the chances for a deal. But Senate aides said they did not expect any deal to be announced Sunday evening.

Senate Democrats took to the floor Sunday afternoon to warn of the economic consequences if Republicans do not agree to reopen the government and raise the debt limit immediately. Republicans, meanwhile, said any agreement to back away from the sequester cuts would be opposed by GOP senators and doomed in the Republican House. Democrats insisted that they have no interest in rolling back the sequester cuts now. Reid noted that the Senate had already approved and sent to the House a measure that would leave the cuts in place through the middle of November.

Negotiations among Republicans and Democrats as well as the President continue as all parties struggle to reach an agreement. Senators return on Monday at 2:00 p.m. for more debate on proceeding to a measure proposing to lift the debt ceiling through December 2014.

Medical Schools and Clinical Conflicts of Interest

Image 1More medical colleges are managing conflicts of interest in clinical care, but most still do not meet national standards for dealing with conflicts, according to a study released Friday by the Institute on Medicine as a Profession. Researchers looked at medical colleges' policies in 2011, and found that nearly two-thirds of medical colleges did not have policies to limit ties to industry in a least one of the areas the study examined, which included gifts, meals, drug samples and payments for travel, consulting and speaking. None of the 133 medical colleges met all of the standards for the 12 areas examined, but a number of medical colleges made progress toward national standards since the institute's previous study, based on 2008 data. The proportion of medical colleges with no policies dropped from more than 25 percent in 2008 to less than 2 percent in 2011.

To view a copy of the study, visit http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23969349.

Richmond City Announces Medicaid Application Changes


Image 2
Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, City of Richmond residents now have access to the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace to purchase health insurance. City residents who are already covered by Medicaid or the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security programs will remain on those programs. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does not affect eligibility or enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries.

Effective immediately, Richmond residents are now able to file applications for Medicaid in several different methods with no interview or office visit required. For many applications, verification will be provided electronically via the new federal Data Hub. Verification from applicants can also be provided by mail, fax, e-mailed scans, or in person.

For more information, visit http://richmondvaannouncements.blogspot.com/2013/10/city-announces-medicaid-application.html.

Deputy Secretaries Selected to Fill Vacating Positions

Governor McDonnell has selected two deputy Cabinet secretaries to replace vacating positions.
Deputy Secretary of Education Javaid Siddiqi will start in his new post when Secretary of Education Laura Fornash leaves in November for the University of Virginia. In addition, Bryan Rhode, the deputy secretary of Public Safety, will advance in November when Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker joins the Virginia Court of Appeals.

MIRC Scheduled to Meet

The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) is scheduled to meet on Monday, October 21 at 1:00 p.m. in House Room D at the General Assembly Building. The agenda will include the following topics:

  • Recent Trends in Medicaid Managed Care in the U.S. and Tennessee;
  • Medicaid Managed Care in Virginia and An Explanation of Reforms Included in FY 2013

Managed Care Contracts;

  • Review of Recent Medicaid Evaluations of Medicaid Outcomes;
  • Review of Requests Submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS);
  • Explanation of Cost Savings from Reforms;
  • Medicaid Reform Options Virginia Should Consider; and
  • Update of Medicaid Reform Matrix.

Also, Wednesday October 16 is the deadline for Virginians to submit written comments to the panel and a public hearing scheduled for 1:00 p.m. on October 15 at the General Assembly Building. Representatives from VCU Health System are expected to participate in the public hearing.

For more information, please visit http://mirc.virginia.gov/meetings2013.html.

Children’s Services:  Sec. 1557 of the Affordable Care Act

Children’s Hospital Association recently joined with allied children’s organizations in a response to a Request for Information (RFI) from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the implementation of Sec. 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Sec. 1557 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs and activities. The joint letter addresses ways in which children could be subjected to discrimination by health insurance plans that would impede their access to the services they need. The letter’s focus includes concerns about the breadth of covered services and provider networks, which may not be designed with children’s needs in mind. The letter also includes a number of recommendations for the implementation of Sec. 1557 so that these potential disparities in treatment and coverage can be appropriately addressed. HHS is expected to use the public comments it receives through this RFI to develop a proposed rule in the coming months to implement the non-discrimination provisions of the ACA.

To view a copy of the letter, visit http://www.childrenshospitals.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home3&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=68326.

 

October 7, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Democrats Call for Vote on “Clean” Bill
■ Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance Report
■ Proposed Changes to the Structure of State Government
■ Second Virginia Lt. Governor Debate
■ “Sprint to the Finish” Plan
■ Children’s Services: Ensuring Quality in Medicaid and CHIP
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Democrats Call for Vote on “Clean” Bill         

House Democratic leaders began circulating a discharge petition Friday in hopes of forcing a vote on a "clean" spending bill. GOP leaders have so far refused to stage a vote on the Senate-passed continuing resolution (CR), insisting that the measure also include provisions scaling back President Obama's healthcare law.

But with more than 20 moderate Republicans indicating support for a clean CR, the Democrats are hoping they can attract the 218 signatures required to force such of vote. The Democrats' strategy is a long-shot; however, as there is no indication that those moderate Republicans would sign the discharge petition. Indeed, those Republicans have sided with Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) on a series of votes to fund the government with piecemeal bills – a strategy rejected by Obama and the Democrats.

Democrats have repeatedly called on Boehner to allow a vote on the Senate bill that would reopen the government for a short period of time, but not include Republican demands to delay or defund the Affordable Care Act. During an interview on ABC's "This Week," with George Stephanopoulos, Boehner commented that the American people expected leaders in Washington to have a conversation.

Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance Report
http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/acsfa/images/acsfabanner2008.gif
According to a report released by the U.S. Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, proposals to alter federal financial aid programs to try to promote college completion could end up damaging postsecondary access. The report, "Do No Harm," warns that several of the policies being discussed among some members of Congress could impact the representation in higher education of students from low-income families.

To view the report, visit http://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/files/Do%20No%20Harm.pdf.

 

Proposed Changes to the Structure of State Government

Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling’s Virginia Mainstream Project has released a series of proposed changes to the structure and operation of Virginia’s state government. The recommended changes include:

  • Having the lieutenant governor and governor run together as a ticket, like the president and vice president in federal elections, and making the lieutenant governor’s job a full-time position;
  • Amending Virginia’s constitution to allow the governor to serve two consecutive terms from the current single, four-year term, the only such limitation in the nation;
  • Establish bipartisan redistricting through a new bipartisan redistricting commission;
  • Prohibit state legislators from electing judges, delegating the authority instead to a bipartisan judicial selection commission; and
  • Establish a continual government performance review process through a commission that would review all major state agencies and boards on an eight-year cycle and advise the General Assembly on the elimination of waste, duplication and inefficiency on the part of such agencies.

According to Bolling, the proposals would make state government more efficient, more effective and more accountable.

Second Virginia Lt. Governor Debate

Photo from Lt. Gov. debateOn Wednesday, Republican E.W. Jackson and Democrat Ralph Northam, squared off once again in a debate at Old Dominion University. About 200 people attended the hourlong forum which provided the candidates an opportunity to discuss their campaign platforms and a wide-ranging list of topics that touched on conduct in office, the federal government shutdown, medical malpractice lawsuits, restoration of voting rights for convicted felons, and education, among other issues. The debate, held at ODU's Diehn Center for the Performing Arts, was co-sponsored by the Young Lawyers Division of the Virginia Bar Association and the university's Student Government Association. Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University, and Julian Walker, The Virginian-Pilot's statewide politics reporter, served as moderators.

“Sprint to the Finish” Plan

On Thursday, Governor McDonnell announced a "Sprint to the Finish" final 100 days plan that aims to continue the administration's successes in improving the quality of life of all Virginians and building a "Commonwealth of Opportunity."

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=2020.

Children’s Services:  Ensuring Quality in Medicaid and CHIP

The Medicaid Matters for Kids Series held its final briefing entitled, “Ensuring Quality in Medicaid and CHIP.” Approximately 100 Congressional staff attended the briefing which was sponsored by Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) and five allied children’s health organizations in collaboration with the House Children’s Health Care Caucus. CHA thanks its partners, allies and member hospitals for all their help in making this briefing series a success, positioning children’s hospitals as visible champions for children’s health care and continuing critical educational outreach on the importance of Medicaid to the health and well-being to over one-third of the nation’s children.

To view materials from the briefing, visit, http://www.childrenshospitals.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=For_Congress2&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=60415.

 

September 30, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: House and Senate Spar over Continuing Resolution
■ New Guidance on Diversity in Higher Education
■ Secretary Laura Fornash Accepts New Position
■ Annual Cabinet Briefing
■ Second Virginia Gubernatorial Debate
■ Children’s Services: “Champion for Babies” 
■ Health Insurance Marketplace to Open    
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill:  House and Senate Spar over Continuing Resolution       

In an early-morning Sunday vote, House Republicans have approved, 231-192, a stopgap spending bill that delays implementation of the Affordable Care Act by one year. Democratic Representatives Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (North Carolina) joined the Republicans and two Republicans voted against the delay, Representatives Chris Gibson and Richard Hanna (New York).

The White House threatened to veto the measure, while a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) has said Reid will not accept any measures that undermine the health care law as part of the budget bill.

Unveiled by GOP leaders just hours earlier, the continuing resolution (CR) would fund the government through December 15. It would delay the individual coverage mandate and the insurance exchanges which are set to launch on Tuesday — and eliminate a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices.

Republican supporters said the ObamaCare delay is necessary to prepare a wary public for sweeping changes that lack the underlying infrastructure to make them work. They framed their postponement proposal as a compromise, relative to the defunding measure they had pushed earlier in the month. The argument did not sit well with Democrats, who were quick to note that the sequester-level spending contained in the Senate-passed bill is the same as that of the initial House CR.

The Senate is set to return Monday afternoon, and lawmakers have until midnight to strike a deal.

New Guidance on Diversity in Higher Education  

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have released new guidance that provides colleges and universities with information about the ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, and reiterates the Departments' position on the voluntary use of race to achieve diversity in higher education. The guidance is the first time the Departments have provided policy clarification on the use of race in higher education since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June.

The guidance explains that the Court preserved the well-established legal principle that colleges and universities have a compelling interest in achieving the educational benefits that flow from a racially and ethnically diverse student body and can pursue that interest in their admissions programs if they do so in lawful ways. The educational benefits of diversity, long recognized by the Court and affirmed in research and practice, include cross-racial understanding and dialogue, the reduction of racial isolation and the breaking down of racial stereotypes.

To review the new guidance, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201309.html.

Secretary Laura Fornash Accepts New Position

Governor Bob McDonnell announced Tuesday that Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash will depart the administration in mid-November to take the position of Executive Assistant to the President for State Government Relations with the University of Virginia. The governor will make an announcement regarding Secretary Fornash's successor in the months ahead.

Annual Cabinet Briefing

Description: http://wiki-images.enotes.com/thumb/a/a0/VCU_Medical_Center_logo.svg/200px-VCU_Medical_Center_logo.svg.pngOn September 24, Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO, VCU Health System and Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, presented VCU’s Annual Cabinet Briefing on the operating and fiscal condition of the VCU Health System.

Each year, the Annual Cabinet Briefing is delivered to our colleagues in the Office of the Governor and the Governor’s Cabinet, the leadership from related Executive Branch agencies, and legislative budget staff. This year, Dr. Retchin’s presentation included an overview of VCU Medical Center’s safety and quality initiatives, critical services for potential disasters, and investments in quality and education. In addition, Dr. Retchin highlighted the partnerships with the Commonwealth and future considerations.

The Briefing was held on the MCV Campus and opening remarks were provided by Dr. Michael Rao, Virginia Commonwealth University President.

Second Virginia Gubernatorial Debate

On Wednesday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and former National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe participated in the second Virginia gubernatorial debate sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and hosted by NBC News political director Chuck Todd. Cuccinelli and McAuliffe discussed taxes, gun control, education reform, and Medicaid reform and expansion, among other issues. The candidates will square off again on October 24 on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.

 

Children’s Services:  “Champion for Babies”  

http://static.foxsports.com/content/fscom/img/2013/09/27/092613-Nascar-Denny-Hamlin-Eric-Cantor-DG-PI_20130927021424508_660_320.JPGWhile in Washington on Thursday to accept the March of Dimes “Champion for Babies” award, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin made a pit stop to visit with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Virginia) on the subject of children’s health. Cantor met with Hamlin, a Chesterfield County native who was in Washington to raise awareness for the March of Dimes, and others in the U.S. Capitol.

Cantor is backing a proposal to expand pediatric research with money currently spent on taxpayer financing of presidential elections. The legislation seeks to save about $100 million over 10 years from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and spend more on research of pediatric diseases and disorders at the National Institutes of Health through its NIH Common Fund.

The Denny Hamlin Foundation is committed to raising awareness and funds for the specific needs of children with cystic fibrosis. As such, they partner with organizations including Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU to focus on cystic fibrosis research, treatment advances, and overall quality of life care.
Health Insurance Marketplace to Open 

The new federal health insurance options will be available online beginning Tuesday, October 1. As a requirement of the Affordable Care Act, the Health Insurance Marketplace will allow U.S. residents to purchase health insurance and compare health plan options. Individuals, families and small businesses can purchase health insurance through the marketplace. Key dates include:

  • October 1, 2013: Open enrollment begins
  • January 1, 2014: Health insurance coverage begins for those who enroll by December 15, 2013 and coverage begins based on one's date of enrollment
  • March 31, 2014: Open enrollment closes

Marketplace insurance coverage includes essential health benefits such as ambulatory services, hospitalization, surgery, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs and preventive and wellness services. Insurance plans are divided into four categories — Bronze, Gold, Silver, Platinum, are based on income, and can include dental coverage.

For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov.

 

September 23, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: House Passes Short Term Spending Plan
■ Hearings on the Higher Education Act    
■ VA21 Endorses Grow By Degrees Agenda
■ McAuliffe and Cuccinelli Discuss Higher Education
■ MIRC to Hold Public Comment Meeting
■ Children’s Services: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month     
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill:  House Passes Short Term Spending Plan       

http://www.housingworks.org/i/blog/DaCapitol.jpgOn Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a short-term government spending plan that extends the current rate of government spending at $986 billion a year. The measure passed on a 230-189 vote almost strictly on party lines. Just one Republican, Representative Scott Rigell (Virginia) voted against it and two Democrats, Representatives Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (North Carolina) voted in favor.

Attached to the legislation was a provision to defund the Affordable Care Act, a consistent target of congressional Republicans. However, the provision has no chance of approval in the Democratic-controlled Senate and it faces a veto threat from President Obama.

The Senate is expected to begin debate on the spending bill, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) will strip out the health care language and send a bill back to the House that simply extends current spending. House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) has not committed to allowing a vote on a spending bill that does not address the health care law. House Republicans will then have three options — reject it, pass it or amend it and send it back to the Senate again.

Hearings on the Higher Education Act  

Chairman Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (Tennessee) has announced their intention to hold a series of hearings on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA) in the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. The hearings will address a host of higher education topics. Additionally, Chairman Harkin released a letter outlining the hearing process and their request for input from students, parents, the higher education community, and other stakeholders.

To view a copy of the letter, view http://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/HEA%20Stakeholder%20Letter%209.17.13.pdf.

 

VA21 Endorses Grow By Degrees Agenda

VA21’s Executive Director, Tom Kramer, has endorsed the 2013 Grow By Degrees (GBD) Agenda. The agenda’s focus is to ensure the state continues to keep higher education high quality, and to make sure it stays affordable so more students can graduate ready for jobs. Particularly interesting to VA21, the new GBD agenda includes recommendations for the state to invest in work study programs that will help students work while they are in college all while developing the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in a competitive job market. It also includes a proposal for the state to provide consistent funding so the colleges are able to make tuition guarantees ensuring predictable costs to students and their families.

McAuliffe and Cuccinelli Discuss Higher Education

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli spoke in general terms about higher education reform proposals before an audience of business and college leaders Tuesday. McAuliffe and Cuccinelli discussed making Virginia higher education workforce incubators for high-tech business, among other issues. The forum was sponsored by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

To view McAuliffe’s plan for higher, visit http://terrymcauliffe.com/on-the-issues/education/higher-education/ and Cuccinelli’s plan for higher education, visit http://www.cuccinelli.com/the-cuccinelli-plan-for-higher-education/.

MIRC to Hold Public Comment Meeting

The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) has announced a meeting for Public Comment which will be held on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 1:00 p.m., House Room D, General Assembly Building. As a reminder, the Public Comments portal is available and allows Virginians to submit comments on the Commission's deliberations or raise an issue that has not been discussed. Public comments should be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday, October 16.

To submit and view public comments, visit http://mirc.virginia.gov/mircapp/commentform.aspx.

Children’s Services: Childhood Cancer Awareness Month   

Photo: Went to Richmond today so Gabriella could be on hand for the ceremonial lighting of the Governor's Mansion Gold in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.  Our State House Delegate Randy Minchew arranged the event.  After receiving a copy of the proclamation declaring September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Virginia, Gabriella got to smash walnuts with Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell.  Afterwards, Delegate Minchew gave us an after hours tour of the State House.In recognition of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Governor McDonnell and Delegate J. Randall “Randy” Minchew (Loudoun, Clarke and Frederick Counties) on Wednesday hosted a group of childhood cancer advocates at the Executive Mansion, including patients and their families from Children’s National Medical Center and representatives from VCU Massey Cancer Center and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Governor McDonnell welcomed attendees to the Mansion and Delegate Minchew read the proclamation declaring September Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in Virginia. The event also included a ceremonial lighting of the Mansion in gold and the Mansion was decorated with gold ribbons. The gold ribbon is the official ribbon of children with cancer worldwide, supported, recognized and promoted by hundreds of organizations and treatment centers, families, friends, and caregivers.

 

September 17, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Vote Delayed on Stopgap Spending Bill
■ U.S. Dept. of Education Report  
■ Virginia Social Entrepreneurship Networking Event
■ MIRC Public Comments Portal
■ Secretary Terrie Suit Accepts New Position
■ Meet the Candidate: Mark Herring
■ Children’s Services: Outreach to Governor’s Associations  
■ VCU Office of Health Innovation: Final DSH Rule
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Vote Delayed on Stopgap Spending Bill       

A divide within the Republican Party over whether to use upcoming budget votes to defund and delay President Obama's health care law has forced House Republicans to delay a vote on a stopgap spending bill to keep the federal government running through mid-December.

House GOP leaders propose a spending bill to fund the federal government through December 15 at the current spending levels — $986 billion a year — to buy Congress more time to find a longer-term agreement. The fiscal year ends September 30 and adding pressure is the timeline, there are just a few legislative days to resolve the issue because the House is scheduled to be in recess the week of September 23.

Conservatives want to use the spending bill to defund the president's health care law, a popular effort among the GOP base, but one that is certain to be blocked by a Democratic-controlled Senate or face a presidential veto. In an effort to find common ground, House GOP leaders put forth a proposal to pass the budget bill but also allow the House another vote to defund the health care law while using a parliamentary approach to force the Senate to take an up-or-down vote to do the same. The effort did not appease some conservatives.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (Maryland) said Democrats will not support the stopgap measure if it includes language to defund the health care law, hoisting the burden on to House Republicans to find the votes to pass it. With 233 seats under their control, Republicans would need all but two dozen of their members to vote for the bill to pass it on their own.

U.S. Dept. of Education Report    

The U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General has a released a report on H.R. 2637: Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act. The report finds that some type of gainful employment metrics are needed to hold colleges accountable and to protect taxpayer money. The report also applauds the department’s efforts to define a credit hour and require institutions of higher education to be authorized by the state in which they operate. The inspector general’s office relied on its previous audits and investigations to produce the analysis. It did not appear to evaluate the impact of the regulations or weigh alternative rule proposals. Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House education committee, sought the study from the Education Department’s inspector general in response to legislation being pushed by House Republicans to repeal those regulations and prohibit the Obama administration from enacting new ones. The proposal cleared the Republican-led House education committee in July on a mostly party-line vote, with one Democrat supporting the measure.

To view the report, visit. http://democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/sites/democrats.edworkforce.house.gov/files/documents/Letter%20to%20George%20Miller%20-%20Sept%209%202013%20%282%29.pdf .

Virginia Social Entrepreneurship Networking Event

https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-ash3/c2.0.160.160/p160x160/174552_1398846307005794_38632249_n.jpg On Thursday, Governor Bob McDonnell, in partnership with Capital One, hosted a social entrepreneurship networking event at the University of Richmond's Robins School of Business. The event convened top thought leaders to consider opportunities in Virginia's growing social entrepreneurship space and was co-chaired by Pete Snyder, CEO of the Virginia-based seed and angel capital company Disruptor Capital, and Mark Rubin, Executive Director of Government Relations for VCU and former senior advisor to Governor Tim Kaine. The event kicked-off with a Governor’s welcome address which was followed by a panel discussion led by Mark Rubin, Ron Monarck, Managing Director of the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center at the College of William and Mary, Elizabeth Schmidt, Executive Director of the Center for Social Entrepreneurship at George Mason, Jeff Pollack, Assistant Professor of Management in the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond, and Bob Mooney of New Richmond Ventures. Later, four attendees at the event will be selected a random to give a four minute presentation on a social entrepreneurship topic of their choice, with attendees voting on the most compelling presentation. The event concluded with a time for participants to network with each other.

MIRC Public Comments Portal

The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) Public Comments portal is now available. The Committee welcomes the input, respectfully presented, of all stakeholders as they weigh the decision on whether or not to expand Medicaid in Virginia. The purpose of this portal is to allow Virginians to submit comments on the Commission's deliberations or raise an issue that has not been discussed. Public comments should be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday, October 16.

To submit and view public comments, visit http://mirc.virginia.gov/mircapp/commentform.aspx .

Secretary Terrie Suit Accepts New Position  

The Commonwealth’s first-ever Secretary of Veteran's Affairs and Homeland Security, Terrie Suit, has been selected as the next Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Association of REALTORS ® (VAR). Suit, a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, will officially step down from her current position in the McDonnell Administration on September 22. Governor McDonnell will appoint Deputy Secretary Jim Hopper to lead the Secretariat following her departure.

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/news/viewRelease.cfm?id=1970 .

Meet the Candidate: Mark Herring

http://b.vimeocdn.com/ts/438/199/438199035_640.jpg State Senator Mark Herring is the Democratic candidate for Attorney General. He was elected to the State Senate in 2006 and during his tenure, has worked to bring technology-based economic development to the Northern Virginia region and secured transportation funding for needed overpasses and other local road projects. In 1999, Herring was elected to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, representing the Leesburg District. Herring has lived most of his life in Loudoun County, Virginia. After graduating from the University of Richmond School of Law, he established a law practice in Leesburg, Virginia. He is the Principal of the law firm Herring & Turner, P.C., working in the areas of business and corporate matters, land use and zoning, civil litigation and municipal law. To learn more about Mark Herring's priorities on women’s health care, ethics in state government, and supporting service members, veterans and their families, visit http://www.herringforag.com/issues .

Children’s Services: Outreach to Governor’s Associations   

http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/images/NGALOGOFEATURE.JPG Children’s Hospital Association staff continued its outreach related to its effort to improve care for children with medical complexities in recent meetings with the policy arms of the Republican Governors’ Association and the National Governors’ Association. Staff also met with the Democratic Governors’ Association’s policy team earlier this summer and has had ongoing conversations with the executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors about its Medicaid reform proposal. In each of the meetings, the governors’ association staff expressed interest in, and general support of, the care coordination model within an overall federal framework that would address the regionalization of specialty pediatric care and the need for data. The Association plans to continue conversations with the organizations representing states both to encourage their support of these efforts and to serve as an information resource on pediatric health care issues in general. The Association also encourages member hospitals to reach out to their governors’ Washington offices to educate them about their hospital and its care delivery innovations.

VCU Office of Health Innovation: Final DSH Rule

The VCU Office of Health Innovation is currently reviewing the final rule on Medicaid State Disproportionate Share Hospital Allotment Reductions released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Friday. The finalized rule gradually reduces Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments to facilities, including VCU Health System, which serve a high concentration of low-income patients. It also adopts a proposal to ignore states’ decisions on the now-optional Medicaid expansion over the next two years when calculating DSH reductions totaling $1.1 billion. On the proposed rule CMS received a number of public comments, mostly from states, hospital associations, and individual hospitals. The DSH reduction methodology adopted in the final rule is similar to the proposed rule, but includes technical updates, corrections, and clarifications.

For more information, visit http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-Sheets/2013-Fact-Sheets-Items/2013-09-13.html

 

September 9, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Congress Returns to Debate Top Issues
■ CBO Report on the Pell Grant Program    
■ Grow By Degrees Policy Agenda
■ Gubernatorial Candidates Meet with VCU Students
■ Virginia Young Professional Summit 2013   
■ Meet the Candidate: Mark Obenshain
■ Children’s Services: Children’s Health Highlighted at Legislative Summit       
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Congress Returns to Debate Top Issues      

Congress returns to Capitol Hill today with a full agenda of issues to debate, including sequestration and the deadline for raising the nation's debt ceiling. The Republican-led House and the Democrat-led Senate are about $91 billion apart in their proposed spending plans.

Congress’s most immediate task is passing a temporary spending bill before the October 1 deadline and start of the new budget year. The stopgap measure would buy time to work out funding government programs over the next 12 months.

GOP leaders had signaled earlier they prefer a straightforward temporary spending bill that would keep agencies running at current budget levels, reflecting the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts in place for the past six months. Congressional Democrats and the White House want to reverse the cuts. However, there have been no fruitful negotiations between the White House and House GOP leaders. President Obama has vowed not to negotiate over the debt limit because the risk of defaulting on the nation's debt holds potentially severe economic consequences.

Even if Congress passes a temporary spending bill this month, lawmakers face the debt ceiling deadline. Congress last voted to extend the ceiling two years ago as part of the deal that created sequestration. A second year of sequestration starts in January unless Congress decides to avert it.

CBO Report on the Pell Grant Program  

At the request of Senator Jeff Sessions (Alabama), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Budget, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a report suggesting possible changes to the Federal Pell grant program. The report outlines options for changing the Pell Grant program, divided by options to reduce the number of grant recipients, options to reduce grant amounts and proposals that would combine the two. It also provides some facts about why spending on the program has grown, as well as evidence about the potential effects of some of the current proposals to change the program and some alternative methods of helping low-income students afford college.

To view the report, visit http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44448_PellGrants_9-5-13.pdf.

Grow By Degrees Policy Agenda 

At news conferences held on September 5 in Norfolk, Richmond and Roanoke, the Grow By Degrees coalition announced its 2013 policy agenda to promote further reform-based investments in Virginia’s higher education system and released results of a new comprehensive study of higher education’s impact on Virginia’s economy.

Launched in 2009 by the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC), the Grow By Degrees coalition is comprised of business and community leaders, economic development officials and organizations, college and university leaders, public officials and others who share the conviction that Virginia’s economic future is fundamentally tied to higher education.

VBHEC Chairman Heywood Fralin, who is also the chairman of Medical Facilities of America, Inc., led the presentation and was joined by former Landmark Communications CEO John “Dubby” Wynne in Norfolk and Richmond, and by Nancy Howell Agee, president and CEO of Carilion Clinic, in Roanoke. Members of the Virginia General Assembly also attended to express support, including the two majority leaders, Delegate Kirk Cox and Senator Tommy Norment, as well as Delegate Rosalyn Dance of Petersburg and Delegate Chris Jones of Suffolk.

For more information, visit http://growbydegrees.org/.

Gubernatorial Candidates Meet with VCU Students

Virginia’s two candidates for governor on Thursday visited L. Douglas Wilder’s public policy class on the VCU Monroe Park Campus. The candidates discussed their plans for higher education reform and economic growth. The class of nearly three dozen students asked the candidates about student loan debt, mass transportation and other issues.

Virginia Young Professional Summit 2013

On September 6 – 7, Senator Mark Warner presented Virginia Young Professionals Summit 2013. The Summit was presented in partnership with Norfolk State University, The City of Norfolk, Capital One, Coburn Creative, Cox Communications, and Liberty Tax Service. It provided a forum for Virginia's next generation of leaders from across the Commonwealth to connect, build relationships, and exchange ideas around leading topics. Friday consisted of a community service project and happy hour. On Saturday, Norfolk State University hosted the day’s events which included a conversation with Senator Warner, breakout sessions, keynote speaker Yancey Strickler, Co-Founder of Kickstarter and a native Virginian, and closing remarks from Zoë Romano, visionary athlete and writer.

For more information, visit http://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=virginia-young-professionals-summit-2013.

Meet the Candidate: Mark Obenshain

State Senator Mark Obenshain is the Republican candidate for Attorney General. Obenshain was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 2003 and has been politically active practically his entire life. He has served as the chairman of two Republican committees, has been a delegate to every Republican state convention since 1980, and was a member of Virginia’s delegation to the 1980 Republican National Convention, which nominated Ronald Reagan. He has worked on the campaigns of virtually every Republican nominee for state and local office since he began practicing law. Obenshain is one of the founders of the Harrisonburg and Charlottesville-based law firm of Lenhart Obenshain PC. For twenty-five years he has practiced law in Harrisonburg and in Central Virginia, representing individuals and businesses in a wide range of legal matters. To learn more about Mark Obenshain's priorities, visit http://markobenshain.com/on-the-issues.

Children’s Services: Children’s Health Highlighted at Legislative Summit    

Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) and nine children’s hospitals recently partnered to raise awareness of the importance of children’s hospitals to the health of children during the National Conference of State Legislatures 2013 Legislative Summit. During the three-day annual meeting of state lawmakers, the Association and children’s hospital staff greeted legislators and their staff from across the country and talked to them about the indispensable care that children’s hospitals provide, as well as the importance of Medicaid to children’s hospitals and the pediatric population. These interactions also gave CHA the opportunity to discuss the unique health care needs of medically complex children and their initiative to improve the delivery of care and reduce costs for these kids.

For more information, visit http://www.ncsl.org/meetings.aspx?tabs=2638,123.

 

September 3, 2013

 

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: Boehner Prepares for Fiscal Negotiations 
■ AAUP Statement on Obama Proposal     
■ HEAC Meeting Update 
■ Conversations with Gubernatorial Candidates 
■ CMS Rule for Unpaid Premiums and Claims   
■ Meet the Candidate: Ralph Northam 
■ Children’s Services: CMMI Grant Proposals Submitted       
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: Boehner Prepares for Fiscal Negotiations       

Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) says he is gearing up for tough negotiations with President Obama over raising the federal debt ceiling. The president has repeatedly said he has no plans to negotiate with Congressional Republicans over the nation’s debt limit and wants it lifted without a political showdown. 

Mr. Boehner’s comments came as Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew wrote to him in a letter that unless Congress raised the debt ceiling, the government would lose the ability to pay all of its bills in mid-October. Lew also said it is not possible to estimate “with any precision” the exact date the Treasury will run out of cash if Congress does not extend the debt limit. Boehner previously said Republicans would not increase the debt ceiling “without real cuts in spending” that would achieve a further reduction in the deficit; however, the Obama administration has said repeatedly that it will not allow Congressional Republicans to use the debt limit to press concessions from the White House. Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, said the speaker had long espoused a policy of spending cuts tied to an increase in the debt ceiling. 

Lawmakers are on recess until September 9, at which point they will have just nine legislative days to hammer out an agreement on federal spending. 

AAUP Statement on Obama Proposal   

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has released a statement in response to President Obama's proposal to evaluate colleges and favor those with high graduation rates and low costs in the availability of Pell Grants and terms on student loans. According to AAUP, the creation of report cards based on graduation rates and earnings of graduates from colleges that serve diverse student populations could result in driving public universities and some private universities to standardize their curricula to insure they get a passing grade. 

To view the statement, visit http://aaup.org/news/statement-president%E2%80%99s-proposal-performance-based-funding

HEAC Meeting Update   

The state Higher Education Advisory Committee (HEAC) met on Monday, August 26. During the meeting the following presentations were given: 
·        Update on SCHEV Workgroup - Tuition & Fee Revenue Used for Financial Aid 
·        Tennessee's Outcomes - Based Funding Formula Policy Considerations 
·        A Concept for Higher Education Incentive Funding 
·        Virginia Higher Education Procurement Cooperative: A proposal to enhance collaboration and reduce cost 
·        Incentive Funding Allocation Model Summary 
·        Student To Faculty Ratios 
·        Tuition Fees Recommendation 

To view a copy of the presentations, visit http://www.education.virginia.gov/Initiatives/HigherEducationAdvisoryCommittee/meetingdocs/index.cfm

Conversations with Gubernatorial Candidates 

On Friday, gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe, Ken Cuccinelli and Robert Sarvis appeared separately on the latest edition of “Virginia Conversations” on Virginia Public Radio, hosted by May-Lily Lee. They discuss education, transportation, ethics reform laws and the latest from the campaign trail. 

To listen to the conversations, visit http://virginiapublicradio.org/2013/08/30/virginia-conversations-race-for-governor-2/

CMS Rule for Unpaid Premiums and Claims 

The Medical Society of Virginia (MSV) and the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) sent a joint letter to Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), asking her to reconsider a regulation that would govern in situations when individuals enrolled in health insurance through the federally-facilitated marketplace or exchange who fail to pay their premiums. 

Under the new CMS rule, when an individual insured through a plan in the exchange fails to pay his or her premiums, a ninety-day grace period is established to bring the account up-to-date. The health plan is required to pay all appropriate claims during the first 30 days of the grace period an may end and deny the claims for the remaining 60 days in the grace period, if coverage is ultimately terminated. If this were to occur, the provider is responsible for collecting payment from the patient and risks being uncompensated for care already provided. In an interim regulation, CMS had proposed that plans pay all appropriate claims during the grace period. MSV and VHHA ask CMS to more fairly distribute the risk of unpaid premiums and claims throughout the health benefit exchange. 
To view a copy of the letter, visit http://www.msv.org/DocumentVault/PDFs/MSV-and-VHHA-letter-to-CMS-on-health-insurance-regulations---.aspx. 

Meet the Candidate: Ralph Northam 

Ralph Northam grew up working on the Chesapeake Bay before attending Virginia Military Institute (VMI). After VMI, he graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) and served eight years active duty in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Major. Upon his return from Desert Storm, Northam began practicing pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk. He additionally serves as Assistant Professor of Neurology at EVMS and has ten years of volunteer service as Medical Director for the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth. In 2007, Northam was elected to the Senate of Virginia. To find out more about Ralph Northam and his policies on education, healthcare and other critical issues, visit http://www.northamforlg.com/issues

Children’s Services: CMMI Grant Proposals Submitted     

VCU has submitted two grant proposals to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). One proposal, the Mobilizing the Pediatric Ambulatory Complex Care Team (M-PACCT) program, will support the care of pediatric complex super-utilizer patients with medical and behavioral health problems. The model will introduce an interdisciplinary team that will support medical homes focused on caring for Medicaid patients under the age of 18 who reside in the Greater Richmond Metropolitan area in Central Virginia. The proposal aims to reduce preventable hospitalizations and ED visits for pediatric super-utilizers and increase family satisfaction with care of patients. 

The second proposal, the Ambulatory Care Coordination Interdisciplinary Support Teams (ACCIST) for Complex Patients program, will support the care of “super-utilizer” Medicaid, Medicare and uninsured patients  who are clinically complex having multiple chronic conditions including many behavioral health problems, have low-socioeconomic status, and live in the Greater Richmond, Virginia Metropolitan area.  An interdisciplinary team comprised of embedded nurse case managers, psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, community health workers, and health coaches will and augment medical homes at VCU Health System and local Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to reduce inappropriate use of health care services and associated costs, while improving patient experience (engagement and satisfaction). 

CMMI plans to make awardee announcements in January. 

 

August 26th, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Lawmakers Plan for Looming Fiscal Challenge
■ Standards to Prepare Students for College and Career
■ Advances Made in Higher Ed in Virginia
■ Lieutenant Governor Candidate Debate Announced
■ MIRC Meeting Update
■ Meet the Candidate: E.W. Jackson
■ Children’s Services: TRICARE Management Activity Meeting
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Lawmakers Plan for Looming Fiscal Challenge

Republican lawmakers are currently making plans for tackling two looming fiscal challenges. While away in their home districts for the summer break, Republican leaders have been weighing their approach to budget standoffs with President Obama over the annual spending bill and the impending debt limit increase.

House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) used a conference call with members on Thursday to brief them on the ideas being considered. The options include using a deadline in November for raising the nation's borrowing limit as leverage. Boehner emphasized on the conference call that he wanted to move quickly when Congress returns to Washington on September 9, and pass a short-term measure that would keep the government funded for about two months past the October 1 deadline.

Whether the Republican rank-and-file will go with Boehner on that strategy is uncertain at this point. Eighty House members, led by Congressman Mark Meadows (North Carolina) have signed a letter to the speaker urging him to back a strategy of the conservative Tea Party movement to threat a government shutdown to try to defund the healthcare reforms. It is also unclear whether the Democrat-led Senate would vote in favor of a short-term funding bill.

Standards to Prepare Students for College and Career

The U.S. Department of Education has proposed regulations to transition away from the "2 percent rule," thus emphasizing the Department’s commitment to holding all students to high standards that better prepare them for college and career. Under the existing regulations, states have been allowed to develop alternate assessments aligned to modified academic achievement standards (AA-MAAS) for some students with disabilities — and use the results of those assessments for accountability purposes under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In making accountability determinations, states currently may count as proficient scores for up to 2 percent of students in the grades assessed using the alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards.

Under the Department's proposed regulation, students with disabilities who have been taking the AA-MAAS will transition to college and career ready standards and general assessments that are aligned to those standards and accessible to all students.

To view the proposed regulations, visit https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/08/23/2013-20665/title-i-improving-the-academic-achievement-of-the-disadvantaged.

Advances Made in Higher Ed in Virginia

Governor McDonnell recently remarked about the major advances made in higher education in Virginia over the course of his administration. This includes reform-based investments totaling almost $400 million to reduce the cost and increase access to a top-quality higher education for Virginia students. Through the governor's "Top Jobs of the 21st Century" higher education legislation passed in 2011, Virginia is ahead of its goal to add an additional 100,000 undergraduate (associate and bachelor's) degrees by 2025. Additionally, to date, Virginia colleges have added an additional 14,000 undergraduate slots for Virginia students.

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=1940.

Lieutenant Governor Candidate Debate Announced

E. W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, will debate his Democratic opponent, state Senator Ralph Northam (Norfolk) at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus on September 24. It will be the first time the candidates face each other in a debate setting since they were nominated. The topic of the 90-minute square-off is “Virginia’s Fiscal Future,” and the event will be hosted by the School of Public Policy and the State and Local Government Leadership Center, with assistance by student volunteer organization Mason Votes. Two additional debate forums between Jackson and Northam are expected to be announced in the near future.

MIRC Meeting Update

On Monday, the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) met. The following topics were presented during the meeting:
· Review of State Approaches to Medicaid Expansion
· Estimate of Cost and Cost Savings to the Commonwealth if Medicaid is Expanded and if Medicaid is Not Expanded
· Update on Modernization of Eligibility Systems
· Review of Medicaid Reform Matrix
· Discussion of Process to Collect Public Input and Comment

The Commission is currently working on a Public Comments portal on their website that will allow individuals to submit comments and suggestions to the Commission. This new feature should be available shortly after Labor Day. Comments submitted through the website will be made public and the information will be used to help the Commission make the decision on whether or not to expand Medicaid in Virginia.

To view a copy of the presentations given during the meeting, visit http://mirc.virginia.gov/.

Meet the Candidate: E.W. Jackson

E.W. Jackson is the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor. He served in the United States Marine Corps and then obtained his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Three years later he graduated from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor. While in law school, Jackson studied theology at Harvard Divinity School. Following, he practiced small business law for 15 years in Boston, and taught Regulatory Law as an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate level at Northeastern University in Boston. Since returning to his home of Virginia, he has also taught graduate courses in Business and Commercial Law at Strayer University in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. To learn more about Jackson’s policy agenda which outlines his vision for local governments, small businesses in Virginia and education, visit http://www.jacksonforlg.com/issues/.

Children’s Services: TRICARE Management Activity Meeting

Children’s Hospital Association, along with other stakeholder groups, met on August 22 with TRICARE Management Activity staff from the Department of Defense (DoD) regarding the comprehensive review of health care for children of military families directed by, the TRICARE for Kids (TFK) legislation passed late last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The meeting with TRICARE was very positive. The Association, along with representatives of the other attending groups and military families, emphasized the importance of the review, the importance of collaboration with stakeholders, and discussed overarching principles, as well as a few specific examples the groups hope and expect DoD to address. Of particular importance to children's hospitals, DoD representatives expressed an interest in moving toward patient centered medical homes for children, and noted there would be challenges for children with special health needs, which prompted an excellent discussion regarding the Association's medically complex project and opened the door for further communication on that proposal.

The study leaders and coordinators demonstrated a willingness to receive and consider input from the attending organizations and any other stakeholders interested in sharing. The Association is finalizing comments that include recommended approaches to overarching concerns as well as recommendations for specific resolutions to specific problems. The Association will continue to work with the ad hoc group of TRICARE for Kids stakeholders as we advance TFK with DoD leadership, TRICARE, and on Capitol Hill.

 

August 19th 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Congress Prepares Focus Following Recess
■ 8 Keys to Success for Disabled Veterans
■ SCHEV Releases Report on Tuition and Fees
■ VHHA Holds Gubernatorial Candidate Forum
■ Meet the Candidate: Robert Sarvis
■ Children’s Services: August Recess Talking Points
■ CMS Awards Navigator Cooperative Grants
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Congress Prepares Focus Following Recess

Members of Congress will need to focus on money matters when they return in September as they will only be in session for 9 days.The government is currently funded by a continuing resolution that expires on September 30. Between now and then, Congress must agree on another continuing resolution which may be a tough feat given the current divisions between the two parties.

Representative Scott Rigell (Virginia) spent the final few weeks before Congress went into recess calling for the House of Representatives to stick around and finish the appropriations process. Representative Rob Wittman (Virginia) joined Rigell in voting against the rule which allowed Congress to recess for the month of August, something that is rarely done.

White House spokesman Jay Carney has said President Obama has been meeting with both Democrats and Republicans to discuss budget issues and will continue to do so. The president has laid out his own plan for breaking the political logjam, which consisted of corporate tax cuts in exchange for investments in job creation. Several Republicans immediately rejected the offer, but others have expressed openness to the ideas.

Over the August recess, Congressional Democrats’ messaging has included a defense to Obamacare. Democrats have also been keeping up the fight for comprehensive immigration reform and gun control, and pushing their economic policies. Meanwhile, Republicans have remained focused on their goals to cut red tape and government abuse, and their offensive strategy against Obamacare.

8 Keys to Success for Disabled Veterans

During the Disabled American Veterans National Convention, President Obama announced that 250 community colleges and universities have committed to implementing the 8 Keys to Success on their campuses. Developed by the Administration, the Department of Education (ED), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in conjunction with more than 100 education experts, the 8 Keys to Success on campus are eight concrete steps institutions of higher education can take to help veterans and service members’ transition into the classroom and thrive once they are there. The 8 Keys to Success on campus are:
1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.
2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.
3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.
4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size)
5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.
6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion.
7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans
8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.

The 250 schools that have committed to the 8 Keys to Success are helping veterans and military families afford and complete their college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials and licenses, and — importantly — preparing them for jobs in high-growth sectors of the economy. More schools are expected to adopt the 8 Keys to Success on campus in the coming months.

SCHEV Releases Report on Tuition and Fees

According to a report released by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), tuition and all mandatory fees for in-state students in Virginia will increase this year by an average of 4.7 percent, or $468. While tuition and other fees rose this year, it is the second lowest tuition increase in the past decade attributable to a concerted effort by lawmakers to carve out more of the state budget for higher education. The General Assembly approved an additional $25.1 million for state colleges this year, which means state funding will be about $100 million more in the current fiscal year than two years ago. According to the report, the state’s continued reinvestment in public higher education for the current biennium will help public institutions meet the requirements of the Virginia Education Opportunity Act of 2011—Top Jobs (TJ21).

To view the report, visit http://www.schev.edu/Reportstats/TuitionFees/2013-14TFReport.pdf.

VHHA Holds Gubernatorial Candidate Forum

On Monday, Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) hosted the candidates for Governor of Virginia. Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli each spent an hour with more than eighty hospital and health systems executives, trustees and other representatives. After delivering opening statements, candidates answered questions from the audience about Medicaid reform and expansion, higher education, job creation, tax reform and other topics. Prior to the event, the candidates had completed questionnaires which were also the subject of questions. The questionnaires will be developed into voter education materials for VHHA members as the election draws near. For more information about the VHHA’s role in the elections, please contact Jeremy Greenfield at jgreenfield@vhha.com or 804-965-1226.

Meet the Candidate: Robert Sarvis

Robert Sarvis is running for governor under the Libertarian banner. Savris, 36, is a native of Virginia. He has earned degrees in mathematics from Harvard University and the University of Cambridge, a J.D. from N.Y.U. School of Law, and a Master's in economics from George Mason University. Sarvis’ professional background includes experience as an entrepreneur and small-business owner, a software engineer and mobile-app developer, a math teacher, and a lawyer. Rob is married to a pediatrician from Greenville, MS, with whom he is raising two children in Annandale, Virginia. To learn more about Sarvis’ policy platform which outlines his vision for healthcare, civil liberties, job creation and economic growth, please visit http://www.robertsarvis.com/issues.

Children’s Services: August Recess Talking Points

Children’s Hospital Association has prepared August recess talking points for hospitals to share with Members of Congress or their staff over the August recess. The talking points focus on the Association’s legislative priority areas including, advancing solutions for medically complex children; ensuring the strength of the Medicaid program for children; and protecting Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME). The talking points build on the Association’s recent messaging on Capitol Hill, including from Family Advocacy Day.

To view the August recess talking points, visit http://www.childrenshospitals.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=N_A_C_H_News_and_Resources&ContentID=67528&DirectListComboInd=D&Template=/MembersOnly.cfm&NavMenuID=4023.

CMS Awards Navigator Cooperative Grants

On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) awarded $67 million in Navigator Cooperative Agreements to 105 entities to serve in the 34 Federally-facilitated and State Partnership Marketplaces. Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC) and Advanced Patient Advocacy are included as recipients of the Navigator grants for Virginia.

Navigators have a vital role in helping consumers prepare electronic and paper applications to establish eligibility and enroll in coverage through the Marketplaces and potentially qualify for an insurance affordability program. They also provide outreach and education to raise awareness about the Marketplace, and refer consumers to health insurance ombudsman and consumer assistance programs when necessary. Navigators play a role in all types of Marketplaces, are funded through state and federal grant programs, and must complete comprehensive training.

VPLC will be working with a statewide consortium of nine well-established legal services programs in the Commonwealth. Advanced Patient Advocacy will work with medical centers to identify uninsured individuals and provide education and assistance to help them make informed decisions about enrollment in the Marketplaces

August 12th 2013

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: President Obama Signs Student Loan Rate Legislation   
■ Education Leaders Ask For Investments in Research   
■ House Leadership Responds to Request for Special Session 
■ Governor McDonnell Announces VBPD Grantees 
■ Meet the Candidate: Ken Cuccinelli 
■ Children’s Services: Mental Health Workforce Reauthorization Act     
■ Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission Meeting 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: President Obama Signs Student Loan Rate Legislation       

President Obama signed into law Friday a measure restoring lower interest rates for student loans, pledging the hard-fought compromise would be just the first step in a broader, concerted fight to rein in the costs of a college education. The bill passed in the House on a 392-31 vote, setting most student loans at the rate of the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.05 percent. Loan rates would be capped at 8.25 percent. 

Earlier this summer, Congress failed to strike a deal preventing rates from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. The borrowing rates had been temporarily set at the lower level since 2007, with Congress extending it several times, the latest of which lapsed earlier this summer. When the White House and congressional negotiators first attempted to hammer out a long-term fix, they were unable to strike a deal. But after returning from the July 4 break, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Senators Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Richard Burr (North Carolina), Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Angus King (Maine) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia) were able to use a bill championed by House Republicans as the framework for new legislation, which then quickly moved through both chambers. 

White House officials have said the President plans to lay out a broad and aggressive strategy in the coming months to tackle the cost of a college education. Even as they passed the bill weeks earlier, congressional officials were already talking about a broader approach to curbing costs and perhaps scrapping the deal when they take up a rewrite of the Higher Education Act this fall. 

Education Leaders Ask For Investments in Research 

The presidents of 165 universities, including VCU President Dr. Michael Rao, issued a joint statement calling on President Obama and Congress to deal with the "innovation deficit" facing the country. This effort was led by the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the leaders of their member universities, who are concerned about cuts to federal investments in research and higher education. These leaders believe the nation needs sustained investments in research and higher education to develop the ideas, the people, and the innovations that power the nation’s economy, create jobs, improve health, and strengthen our national security, ensuring that the U.S. maintains its role as global leader. They also believe the growth supported by innovation will help the nation address its fiscal challenges. 

To view a copy of the letter, visit http://www.innovationdeficit.org/printer_friendly.html
  
House Leadership Responds to Request for Special Session 

Republican leaders in Virginia’s House of Delegates announced Tuesday they do not support calling a special legislative session to tackle ethics reform. The GOP leaders made the announcement one day after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli publicly asked Governor McDonnell to call legislators back to Richmond to review gift laws. House Speaker Bill Howell (Stafford) and other Republican leaders said in a written statementTuesday they do not favor a special session. In addition to Howell, the statement was issued by Majority Leader Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights), Caucus Chairman Timothy Hugo (Fairfax) and Majority Whip Jackson Miller (Manassas). 

The governor has the power to call a special session, something the General Assembly cannot do on its own without the approval of a super-majority in both chambers. 

Governor McDonnell Announces VBPD Grantees   

On Thursday, Governor McDonnell announced Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD), the Commonwealth's Developmental Disabilities Council, has awarded six grants, including an award to Virginia Commonwealth University-Rehabilitation Research & Training Center. The funding will be used to improve and expand support for individuals with developmental and other disabilities. 

To learn more about VBPD, its grants, advocacy and leadership programs and other activities, visit www.vaboard.org, call (800) 846-4464 or e-mailInfo@VBPD.virginia.gov

Meet the Candidate: Ken Cuccinelli 

Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli has served as Virginia’s Attorney General since January 2010. Prior to assuming the office of Attorney General, Cuccinelli was a small business owner and partner in the law firm of Cuccinelli & Day, in Fairfax. His specialty included business law with a particular focus on serving as an outsourced general counsel to small and mid-sized companies. In August 2002, Cuccinelli was elected to represent the 37th District in the Virginia Senate, where he served until becoming Attorney General. To learn more about Cuccinelli’s policy platform which outlines his vision for education, taxes and spending, government reform and healthcare, visithttp://www.cuccinelli.com/issues/

Children’s Services: Mental Health Workforce Reauthorization Act   

Children’s Hospital Association and allied organizations sent a letter of support to Representative Joe Courtney endorsing, H.R. 1827, “The Pediatric Subspecialty and Mental Health Workforce Reauthorization Act”. The bill would reauthorize through FY 2018 the pediatric specialty education loan repayment program created as part of the Affordable Care Act. The program, which has yet to be funded by Congress, would provide loan repayment assistance for those providing pediatric medical subspecialties and child or adolescent mental or behavioral health care in an area with a shortage that has a sufficient pediatric population to support the subspecialty. 

Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission Meeting 

Members of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC), who are working to review, recommend and approve innovation and reform proposals affecting the Virginia Medicaid, will meet on Monday, August 19, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. in Senate Room B of the General Assembly Building. The meeting is open to the public. 

To view the agenda, visit http://mirc.virginia.gov/documents/08-19-13/Agenda_08-19-13.pdf

 

August 5, 2013

In this update: 
■ On Capitol Hill: President Meets with Congressional Democrats   
■ Smarter Solutions for Students Act   
■ Intergenerational Financial Obligations Reform Act 
■ Holiday Hoops Classic Coin Toss 
■ Meet the Candidate: Terry McAuliffe 
■ Children’s Services: Newborn Health Coverage   
■ VCU Expands Pilot Program for Adults with Chronic Conditions 
■ Executive Branch Media Talks 
■ State & Local Government Meetings 

On Capitol Hill: President Meets with Congressional Democrats       

On Wednesday, President Obama told Republicans he will reject any fiscal deal that only spares the Pentagon from budget cuts. Seeking party unity, the president met with congressional Democrats in both chambers to prepare them for the budget battle they will face in the fall. His message was unequivocal: no negotiating with Republicans on a debt-ceiling increase and no reductions in the sequester cuts to defense unless domestic programs are spared as well. 

The meetings took place shortly before White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors met with a group of Senate Republicans to discuss the possibility of a deficit-reduction deal later this year. Senators John McCain (Arizona) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), the leaders of the GOP group, want to relieve defense programs from cuts. However, President Obama made clear there’s no deal unless Republicans agree to boost funding for other domestic programs affected by the sequester. The president told Democrats that stimulating the economy should take priority over reducing the deficit. 

Conservative Senate Republicans say they will not agree to extend the country’s borrowing authority unless the president signs off on a plan putting the federal budget on a path to balance over the next decade, but President Obama rejected that demand in Wednesday’s meeting. Some Democrats said leaders should not postpone the budget showdown to the fall, when limited time is likely to force a round of intense brinkmanship.

Smarter Solutions for Students Act 

The House of Representatives has approved with bipartisan support a final version of H.R. 1911, the Smarter Solutions for Students Act (also known as the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act as amended by the Senate). The bill will calculate undergraduate Stafford loans using a formula based on the 10-year Treasury note plus 2.05 percent; calculate graduate Stafford loans using a formula based on the 10-year Treasury note plus 3.6 percent; calculate graduate and parent PLUS loans using a formula based on the 10-year Treasury note plus 4.6 percent; protect borrowers in high interest rate environments by including an 8.25 percent interest rate cap on Stafford loans made to undergraduates, a 9.5 percent cap on Stafford loans made to graduate students, and a 10.5 percent cap on PLUS loans; and provide stability for students by locking in interest rates for the life of the loans, and prevent future uncertainty about whether Congress is going to act in time to change the interest rate. 

To learn more about H.R. 1911, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/smartersolutions/
  
Intergenerational Financial Obligations Reform Act   

Senators John Thune (South Dakota) and Tim Kaine (Virginia) have introduced a bipartisan bill to provide for detailed analyses of how Congressional budgets and major pieces of new legislation would impact future generations. Thune and Kaine’s bill, the Intergenerational Financial Obligations Reform (INFORM) Act, would also require the president to provide a detailed accounting of how the administration’s budget would affect young people. The bill would ensure that Congress and the administration have the tools necessary to better evaluate the effect that changes in taxes, spending policies, and future economic advancements will have on the fiscal health of the country and on individual Americans 20, 50, or even 75 years down the road. It would also require the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office to provide an annual analysis of the long-term impact high levels of debt will have on future generations. Senators Rob Portman (Ohio) and Chris Coons (Delaware) are original co-sponsors of this legislation. 

Holiday Hoops Classic Coin Toss   

On Thursday afternoon, the official coin toss to determine home and away team designations for the 2013 Governor's Holiday Hoops Classic, which will take place on Saturday, December 21, 2013 at the Richmond Coliseum, was held at the Patrick Henry Building in Richmond.  This year’s Classic will feature Hampton University vs. James Madison University in the early game and Virginia Tech vs. Virginia Commonwealth University in the late game. 
  
The coin toss was officiated by Deputy Secretary of Education Javaid Siddiqi and featured Delegate Matthew James (Portsmouth) representing Hampton University, Delegate Kirk Cox (Colonial Heights), representing James Madison University, Senator John Watkins (Powhatan) representing Virginia Tech and Delegate John O'Bannon, III (Henrico) representing Virginia Commonwealth University.  Hampton University won home court advantage by winning the first toss, and Virginia Tech claimed home court by winning the second. 
  
Last year’s inaugural Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic raised over 200 tons of food and more than $50,000 in ticket proceeds for Virginia’s food banks. Virginians can visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/hoops-classic, to sign up for updates in the months ahead regarding the Classic. 

Meet the Candidate: Terry McAuliffe 

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is a businessman and entrepreneur who has lived with his family in Fairfax County, Virginia for over 20 years. McAuliffe attended Catholic University and Georgetown Law School and has worked with and led numerous businesses in diverse sectors of the economy.  He served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005 and served as co-chairman of President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign and as chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign. To learn more about McAuliffe’s policy platform which outlines his vision for economic development, transportation, education, and healthcare, visithttp://terrymcauliffe.com/on-the-issues/policy/

Children’s Services: Newborn Health Coverage 

Children’s Hospital Association has joined with allied health groups in a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that asks the Department to ensure newborns of dependents covered through their parents’ private insurance also have access to health coverage. Currently, if a dependent up to age 26 receives maternity coverage under their parent’s plan, the dependent’s newborn is ineligible for coverage under the same plan once the mother is discharged from the hospital. HHS has extended temporary insurance coverage for newborns under certain plans that do not allow dependent coverage. The allied group letter asks HHS to explore similar options to ensure all newborns of dependents do not experience disruptions in health coverage. 

To view a copy of the letter, visit http://images.magnetmail.net/images/clients/NACHRI/attach/SebeliusLetterDependentsofDependents.pdf

VCU Expands Pilot Program for Adults with Chronic Conditions 

Virginia Commonwealth University is expanding a pilot program that helps under-served older adults better manage chronic health conditions and coordinate their care. The Richmond school's nursing program is getting a $1.5 million, three-year grant from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration. Officials say the grant will be used to expand and refine an existing model of inter-professional health care education and clinical service focused on improving the health and well-being of residents. Students from the VCU schools of nursing, pharmacy, medicine and social work collaborate to provide chronic disease management and medication management to seniors living in a Richmond facility. The aim is that the Richmond Health and Wellness Program eventually will serve as a model across the city and beyond. 

 

July 29th, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: House Set to Agree with Senate Compromise 
■ Education Benefits for Veterans 
■ “America’s Top Colleges” Report 
■ National Commission on College and University Board Governance
■ Update on DMAS Primary Care Rate Increase
■ Children’s Services: Conquer Childhood Cancer Act 
■ VCU School of Business Receives Distinction
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: House Set to Agree with Senate Compromise      

The U.S. House is set to go along with a bipartisan Senate compromise that would link college students’ interest rates to the financial markets and offer borrowers lower rates this fall. The Senate bill hews closely to one the House already has passed, and leaders from both parties and in both chambers expect those differences will not stand in the way of quick resolution, perhaps as early as Wednesday.

House approval would send the measure to President Barack Obama, who has said he would sign it into law “right away.” But critics note that if the economy improves, as expected, rates could climb higher. If the Republican-led House consents to the Senate’s tinkering with the House’s earlier proposal, and Obama signs the legislation before students start returning to campus, families would see better deals on some federal loans this year than they did in 2012. Undergraduates could borrow at rates as low as 3.4 percent for subsidized Stafford loans and 6.8 percent on unsubsidized Stafford loans last year, while graduate students and parents borrowed at 7.9 percent last year.

Both chambers would link the interest rate to the 10-year Treasury note plus an added percentage, based on the type of loan. Each sets caps on how high the loans can go. But under the Senate bill, once a student or parent takes a loan for the school year the rate would not change. The House bill would make the interest rate variable, meaning it could change every year until the loan is repaid.

Education Benefits for Veterans
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Nearly 1 million student veterans used $10.9 billion in education benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to attend college in 2011, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). The study released Thursday gives perhaps the most in-depth picture of the college-going patterns of large numbers of veterans who are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. And while it does not name individual colleges, the report includes separate numbers for the for-profit, public and private nonprofit sectors.  

The largest source of education funding for veterans is the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which accounted for $8.5 billion of all such payments in 2011. Other programs include the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program. Public and for-profit institutions received roughly same amount of all Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition payments over all. But among the small group of colleges that received a high volume of payments, for-profits got the biggest piece of the pie. Those for-profits also received the highest Post-9/11 G.I. Bill payments per veteran, the study found.

Public institutions enrolled the most veterans, according to the report, and had the lowest Post-9/11 GI Bill payments per veteran. Those payments were half the amount, on average, of those received at for-profits.

The study shed some light on student success rates at the colleges that veterans attend. But the data were not specific to student veterans, and the report instead included retention and graduation rates for all students at institutions within each sector. Overall, student veterans generally fared better at institutions that enroll large numbers of their peers.

To view the report, visit http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-567.
 
“America’s Top Colleges” Report  

Governor McDonnell issued a statement following the release of Forbes' annual "America's Top Colleges" report. Altogether, 22 Virginia schools, including Virginia Commonwealth University, were included in the "America's Top Colleges" report. The Forbes rankings are based on 'quality of teaching, great career prospects, high graduation rates and low-levels of debt.'

To view the governor’s statement, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/news/viewRelease.cfm?id=1910.

National Commission on College and University Board Governance   

HomeThe Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) announced Thursday the formation of the National Commission on College and University Board Governance. AGB President Richard Legon has charged the Commission with reviewing current governance practices and recommending changes it believes could help boards better meet the financial, educational, and legal challenges that confront higher education today.  Philip Bredesen, the former governor of Tennessee (2003-11), will chair the Commission, and education policy expert Jane Wellman will serve as executive director.

The new 26-member Commission includes current and former university board members and college presidents, as well as business leaders, faculty representatives, and national experts in finance, public policy, and nonprofit governance.

The Commission is expected to publish its recommendations in September 2014. It plans to begin by identifying the preliminary set of topics that appear to be most worthy of attention, followed by the development of its proposed solutions. The Commission plans to consult widely with stakeholder groups and experts in governance as it works.

Update on DMAS Primary Care Rate Increase

The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) is making the following payments for the primary care rate increase covering the first six months of 2013:

  • July 5 – Managed care organization (MCO) supplemental capitation payments to MCOs, $27.8 million
  • July 19 – Fee for service (FFS) supplemental payments to eligible physicians, $9.9 million

Providers who attested successfully on or before March 31, 2013 will receive payments for dates of service from January 1, 2013. Providers who attested after March 31st are eligible for payments beginning the first day of the month in which they successfully attested. After this catch up payment, future payments will be made quarterly. Medicaid managed care plans will not make payments to providers for eligible managed care primary care services until supplemental capitation payments are received from DMAS and processed. Payments should be rendered in the coming weeks.
For additional information on the primary care rate increase, please check the DMAS provider web portal at www.virginiamedicaid.dmas.virginia.gov/wps/portal.

Children’s Services: Conquer Childhood Cancer Act  

Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) has sent letters of support to Representatives Michael McCaul (Texas) and Chris Van Hollen (Maryland) and Senator Jack Reed (Rhode Island), the cosponsors of H.R. 2607 and S. 1251, the House and Senate versions of the Caroline Pryce Walker Conquer Childhood Cancer Reauthorization Act. The Act would reauthorize the original Conquer Childhood Cancer Act that was enacted in 2008, also with the endorsement of the Association, and build upon the successes that have derived from the law. The new bill would expand cancer research, improve childhood cancer surveillance, and instruct the GAO to investigate the possibility of expanding FDA requirements for pediatric research of adult oncologic drugs and make recommendations for overcoming barriers.

VCU School of Business Receives Distinction

Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business’ undergraduate and graduate programs in real estate have been approved by The Appraisal Foundation, making VCU one of only two universities in the country to have both levels of programs achieve that distinction. Approval for the Bachelor of Science in real estate and Master of Science in business programs came from the undergraduate and graduate degree review program by the Appraiser Qualifications Board of The Appraisal Foundation. The group is a congressionally authorized nonprofit organization that fosters professionalism among appraisers by setting qualifications and standards.

 

July 22, 2013

 

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Senators Reach Deal on Federal Student Loan Rates
■ Investment in Federal Science Research Programs 
■ SCHEV Discusses the Future of Higher Education
■ Progress Report on DOJ Settlement
■ First Gubernatorial Debate Held
■ Children’s Services: Hearing on Health Information Technology
From the Office of Health Innovation: Final Rule on Navigator Programs
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Senators Reach Deal on Federal Student Loan Rates     

http://newjersey.news12.com/polopoly_fs/1.5715722.1374143911!/image/image.PNG_gen/derivatives/display_600/image.PNGAfter weeks of negotiations, U.S. senators reached a deal Wednesday to retroactively reduce some student-loan rates and to change how many of the federal student-loan rates are calculated. Interest rates on subsidized Stafford student loans doubled from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent July 1. The new deal brings that rate back down and ties both subsidized and unsubsidized rates to the market, with caps on individual loans.

The agreement is based on a proposal crafted by a bipartisan group of senators, including Senator Joe Manchin, West Virginia), Senator Angus King (Maine), Senator Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), Senator Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), and Senator Richard Burr (North Carolina). Members of the group met at the White House on Tuesday with President Obama, where student loans were discussed, according to Senate aides.

Whether the House will also take up the deal remains unclear. On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said he had not seen the details of the deal but it followed the structure of the House bill. A House leadership aide added Republicans are "encouraged the Senate finally agrees with the House that a permanent fix that protects both students and taxpayers is needed."

The agreement ties loan interest rates to the 10-year Treasury (T) note. Both subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford undergraduate loans would add 2.05 percent on top of the T-note, with an 8.25 percent up-front cap on individual loans. Graduate loans would add 3.6 percent to the T-note, with a 9.5 percent cap, and PLUS loans — available to graduate students and parents of undergraduates — would add an additional 4.6 percent, with a 10.5 percent cap. The Congressional Budget Office scores the proposal at about $700 million.

Investment in Federal Science Research Programs

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations has approved a spending bill that would increase spending on the National Science Foundation (NSF) by $183 million over what the agency is receiving this year. The legislation is part of an overall spending bill for several agencies that would make a significant investment in federal science research programs, particularly in the physical sciences. Funds for the NSF would increase to $7.4 billion, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology would see a boost of $141 million over its 2013 spending level. The spending levels in the Senate bill are significantly higher than those in the competing House version.
 
SCHEV Discusses the Future of Higher Education  
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The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) met on July 15-16 to discuss the future of higher education and to consider budget and policy recommendations. On Monday, SCHEV heard from several prominent Virginia leaders who were asked to comment on the state of higher education in Virginia. The guests were also invited to share their ideas on the role the Council should play in addressing challenges and opportunities facing the Commonwealth’s colleges and universities. On Tuesday, the Council held its regular business meeting which included a report on potential budget items for the 2014-16 biennium.

Members of the Council have also re-elected Gilbert Bland of Virginia Beach as Chair and G. Gilmer Minor III of Richmond as Vice Chair. Mary Haddad of Suffolk was elected for the first time to serve as Secretary. They will lead the Council as it carries out its ongoing responsibilities as the coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education.

Progress Report on DOJ Settlement  

On Thursday, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) reported its progress to a General Assembly subcommittee on moving residents out of the state’s mental-health training centers. Currently, nearly 800 people still live in the five training centers and the Department has a goal of encouraging 250 to move out by next June. The department seeks to meet the terms of a $2.4 billion settlement between Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that will shift the care of those with intellectual disabilities to community-based services. Under the settlement, four of the state's five training centers will close by mid-2020.

During the meeting, Delegate Robert Brink (Arlington) and Delegate Steve Landes (Staunton) questioned whether Virginia can meet its 2020 deadline, noting concerns expressed by family members of training center residents and housing needs. James Stewart, Commissioner of DBHDS and Mary Ann Bergeron, Director of the state’s Association of Community Services Boards, discussed continued needs to achieve the transition goals, for example, the state's Medicaid waiver program — which is currently being studied to see how it can better support the type of integration specified in the settlement.

First Gubernatorial Debate Held 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_606w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2013/07/20/Local-Politics/Images/Governors_Race_Debate-064cf.jpgOn Saturday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and businessman Terry McAuliffe participated in their first debate. The debate, held at the Omni Homestead resort in southwest Virginia, was moderated by Judy Woodruff of PBS' NewsHour and hosted by the Virginia Bar Association. For 90 minutes, the two discussed ethics and jobs, transportation policy and Obamacare. Although McAuliffe and Cuccinelli have stark differences on policy, the two candidates seemed to agree creating jobs is the key to Virginia's future.

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce (Fairfax Chamber) and NBC4 Washington will host the second Gubernatorial Debate on September 25 in McLean, Virginia.

Children’s Services: Hearing on Health Information Technology  

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee recently held a hearing titled “Health Information Technology: A Building Block to Quality Health Care.” During the hearing Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (Pennsylvania) asked questions on the importance of pediatric quality measures for Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records (EHR). The panelists included Patrick Conway, MD, MSc, Chief Medical Officer and Director, Center for Clinical Standards and Quality; and Acting Director, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Department of Health and Human Services. Panelists discussed the current work being done on developing and standardizing measures for EHRs to meet the needs of the pediatric population. They also noted the government is working across agencies to identify and develop the infrastructure to collect data to inform care for children.

From the Office of Health Innovation: Final Rule on Navigator Programs

On July 17, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule that implements standards for certain Navigator and non-Navigator programs (also called in-person assistor programs), as well as certified application counselors. These three consumer assistance programs, created under the Affordable Care Act, are tasked with providing application and enrollment assistance to consumers as Exchanges become operational on October 1, 2013. Specifically, this regulation finalizes an April 2013 proposed rule that established standards for Navigators in federally facilitated and state partnership Exchanges, as well as federally-funded non-Navigator programs in all types of Exchanges. In addition, the rule finalizes the provisions of a February 2013 proposed rule that implements standards for certified application counselor programs, which all Exchanges must create.

Currently, Virginia has defaulted to a federal exchange. To view the final rule, visit http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-07-17/pdf/2013-17125.pdf.

 

Legislative Update
July 15, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Fix for Higher Interest Rates on Student Loans
■ Senate Committee Passes Spending Measure 
■ DMV and VDH Partnership Announced
■ Commonwealth’s First Modeling and Simulation Plan
■ Scores Required for Teacher-Preparation Programs
■ Children’s Services: House Committee Holds Second Hearing on Medicaid
■ New Appointments to VCU Board of Visitors   
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Fix for Higher Interest Rates on Student Loans     

http://media.salon.com/2011/03/house_passes_3_week_stopgap_federal_spending_bill.jpgSenators working on a fix for higher interest rates on student loans are headed back to the drawing board after Democrats failed Wednesday to advance their preferred plan to curb the increase. Senate Democrats were unable to garner enough support for their legislation, which would lower the rates back to 3.4 percent for one year.

The bill, sponsored by Senator Jack Reed (Rhode Island) received 51 votes — all Democratic — falling short of the 60 needed to break a GOP filibuster. Senators Joe Manchin (West Virginia) and Angus King (Maine), who caucuses with Democrats, both voted against the measure. The two lawmakers are part of a bipartisan group pushing a competing measure in the Senate, which would tie the interest rate to 10-year Treasury bonds, allowing it to move with financial markets. Senator Tom Carper (Delaware), the third Democratic sponsor on the competing bill, voted in favor of the one-year extension as well.

House Republicans have passed a bill that would also tie the borrowing rate to Treasury bonds and have spent the last several days lobbying Senate Democrats to take up a similar approach. The White House also proposed a market-based fix for the student loan rates in its latest budget proposal, but the two parties continue to debate over the details.

After the Democratic bill was knocked down, Manchin and King indicated that they were willing to negotiate further, and were hopeful the defeat of a one-year extension could open up talks for a broader compromise. But King cautioned that efforts to put in a tougher cap might mean higher rates are needed to keep the bill as close to deficit neutral as possible.

A reworked version of the compromise bill has been sent to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring, which could take several days, according to one Senate aide. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) has said he was willing to strike a compromise, but would only do so if the bill could guarantee lower rates than the existing 6.8 percent.

Senate Committee Passes Spending Measure

The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations passed a 2014 spending bill Thursday that largely reflects one approved two days earlier by the subcommittee that allocates funds for education, with one notable difference: the subcommittee’s version of the bill would have allocated $400 million to the Race to the Top program, while the full committee slashed that amount by $150 million.

Race to the Top, the Obama administration’s initiative focused on college affordability, was allocated $250 million in the Senate’s spending bill — significantly lower than the $1 billion the administration requested for the program last year.

Funding for other education and research programs stayed the same in the full committee’s version of the bill. The bill allocates $850 million for the TRIO programs, which help low-income, first-generation college students prepare for postsecondary education. The bill also maintained the $31 billion provided to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which would allow the NIH to allocate $40 million for the new brain research initiative. Under the bill, the total maximum Pell Grant would rise by $140 to $5,785.
 
DMV and VDH Partnership Announced
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Governor McDonnell recently announced the partnership between the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) allowing DMV to issue birth certificates at its customer service centers beginning March 1, 2014. Beginning January 1, 2015, DMV is authorized to issue certified copies of all death, marriage, and divorce records. The partnership stems from Senator Steve Newman's (Lynchburg) vital records bill passed during the 2013 General Assembly session.
Customers will still be able to obtain documents from the VDH Division of Vital Records office in Richmond, or by ordering online for delivery through the mail. The new partnership will make paper birth certificates from 1912 onward available at all 75 DMV customer service centers throughout the state beginning March 1, 2014.

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/news/viewRelease.cfm?id=1887.

Commonwealth’s First Modeling and Simulation Plan

Governor McDonnell has announced the development of the Commonwealth's first modeling and simulation plan. The strategic plan is being developed in an effort to identify modeling and simulation assets and capabilities and to jumpstart collaboration and market development across Virginia. The effort is being led by Virginia's Secretaries of Technology, Commerce and Trade, Education and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security. All Virginia scientists, practitioners and companies that develop or utilize modeling and simulation applications or technologies are encouraged to participate.The strategic plan will be completed December 1, 2013. Funding for the development of the strategic plan is being provided by the Department of Defense, Office of Economic Adjustment.

Those interested in participating in the development of the strategic plan or learning more about the initiative should contact karen.jackson@governor.virginia.gov or visit http://www.modsimconnected.com/ to register.

Scores Required for Teacher-Preparation Programs 
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The Virginia Board of Education (VDOE) has voted to increase the minimum acceptable scores on assessments required for entry into teacher-preparation programs and state licensure. The board also ended the practice of allowing would-be teachers to rely on composite scores that may mask weaknesses in a particular area. The Virginia Communication and Literacy Assessment (VCLA) has been a requirement for initial licensure since 2006. It is also used as an entrance examination for college and university teacher preparation programs. The assessment includes three subtests: Reading, Writing Multiple Choice and Sentence Correction, and Writing Assignments. The board has also approved Superintendent of Public Instruction Patricia Wright’s recommendation to raise the minimum acceptable scores for all three subtests as follows:

  • VCLA Reading – from 20 to 26 correct items out of a total of 35;
  • VCLA Writing Multiple Choice – from 23 to 29 correct items out of a total of 41; and
  • VCLA Writing Assignments – from 23 to 29 correct items out of a total of 40.

The new VCLA cut scores go into effect on January 1, 2014. Aspiring teachers will have to achieve all three minimums as the board eliminated the option of achieving a minimum composite score. The new minimum scores will also apply for students taking the VCLA for admission into a teacher-preparation program.

The board also barred the use of composite scores on the new Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators program-admissions assessment and raised the minimum acceptable scores on a series of Praxis assessments required for license endorsements in elementary education as well as middle and high school-level mathematics and English. 

The new scores on the tests for middle and high school mathematics and English endorsements go into effect on January 1, 2014. The new minimums on the elementary endorsement tests go into effect on July 1, 2014.

Children’s Services: House Committee Holds Second Hearing on Medicaid

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health held a second hearing on Medicaid reform, “Making Medicaid Work for the Most Vulnerable.” The hearing is a part of the committee’s ongoing efforts to find reasonable reforms to improve the Medicaid system. The witnesses included: Nina Owcharencko of the Center for Health Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation; Tarren Bragdon of the Foundation for Government Accountability; and Alan Weil of the National Academy for State Health Policy. Representative Kathy Castor (Florida) mentioned St. Joseph’s Complex Chronic Pediatric Center and the innovative coordinator of care being performed there. Representative Castor also mentioned the work and the briefings of the Congressional Children’s Health Care Caucus, of which she is a co-chair.

New Appointments to VCU Board of Visitors

On Friday, Governor McDonnell announced new appointments to Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors. Those appointments include Nancy Everett of Richmond, Managing Director for BlackRock, John Snow of Richmond, G. Richard "Rick" Wagoner, Jr. of Birmingham, Michigan, and Steve Worley of Harahan, Louisiana, President and CEO of Children's Hospital New Orleans. Each new member’s four-year term started on July 1, 2013.

 

July 8, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: House Republicans Prepare Menu of Spending Cuts
■ Q & A for New Student Loans Interest Rates   
■ Governor McDonnell Signs Public Safety Legislation
■ Hangout for Higher Education
■ SBE Online Registration Portal
■ Children’s Services: Connecting Kids to Coverage
From the VCU Office of Health Innovation  
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: House Republicans Prepare Menu of Spending Cuts     

In preparation for debt-ceiling negotiations, House Republicans are drafting what members call a “menu” of mandatory spending cuts to offer the White House in exchange for raising the country’s borrowing limit. President Obama says he will not negotiate the debt ceiling and there has been no communication between the White House and House GOP leadership about the coming debt-ceiling discussions, according to Republicans.

Ever since Congress granted Obama a short-term extension in January – a move that conservatives supported with the express purpose of strengthening their hand for the next round of negotiations – Republicans have been engaged in intensive preparations for the coming debt-ceiling showdown. House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) is now working with several leading conservatives – including Representative Steve Scalise (Louisiana) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wisconsin) – to draft the options menu. It is based on what is known as the Ryan budget, according to Representative Tom Price (Georgia) and it will outline what Obama will have to agree to for whatever length extension he seeks.

For a long-term deal, one that gives Treasury borrowing authority for three-and-a-half years, President Obama would have to agree to premium support. For example, the plan would include privatizing Medicare. For a medium-sized increase in the debt-limit, the president would agree to cut spending in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food stamps, block-grant Medicaid, or tinker with chained Consumer Price Index (CPI). For a smaller increase, there is talk of means-testing Social Security, for example, or ending certain agricultural subsidies.

While the menu includes a number of variables, the underlying strategic goal is to reduce mandatory spending. Even at the smallest end of the spectrum, there is talk of pushing back the eligibility age for Social Security by an equal number of months. An administration official said the White House is willing to discuss deficit reduction, but not as part of a debate about the debt limit.

 

Q & A for New Student Loans Interest Rates


Federal Aid Logo As of July 1, 2013, the interest rate on new subsidized Stafford Loans rose to 6.8% from the previous rate of 3.4%. The Administration and U.S. Department of Education is actively working with Congress to bring rates back down for new loans. In addition, the Administration has advocated that any plan passed by Congress apply to all loans first disbursed after June 30, even loans already disbursed.

If the law is changed, the Department and its servicers will adjust rates for all affected borrowers, including those who had already received their first subsidized loan disbursement, without any further action on the part of the borrower or the school. In an effort to help educate student borrowers and their families about what the rate change means, the Department has answered some of the most common questions on their website.

To view the questions and answers, visit http://www.ed.gov/blog/2013/07/answers-to-your-questions-on-student-loan-interest/.
 
Governor McDonnell Signs Public Safety Legislation

On Wednesday July 3, Governor McDonnell ceremonially signed 22 pieces of legislation passed during the 2013 General Assembly Session to strengthen Virginia's public safety laws. He was joined by local and state law enforcement officials and legislators at the Metro Richmond Police Aviation Hanger. The legislation includes measures that toughen identity theft penalties, make important updates to the sex offender registry, crack down on gang violence, and improve school and campus safety.

For details on the bills signed, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=1879.

Hangout for Higher Education  

VA21HangoutEmailVirginia21 has announced the Hangout for Higher Education, an online event for young voters to discuss issues affecting them with the gubernatorial candidates.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe will be hanging out separately with Virginia21 members on Google Hangout, the video chat service. The Hangout will take place on Wednesday, July 10 from 2–3pm and will feature separate discussions with Virginia21 members. The event will be broadcast live on Virginia21’s new website.

For more information and to register, visit http://www.virginia21.org.php53-6.ord1-1.websitetestlink.com/event/virginia21-announces-hangout-for-higher-education/.

SBE Online Registration Portal

In an recent email message sent to voter registration and election officials around the Commonwealth, Don Palmer, Secretary of the State Board of Elections (SBE), announced Virginia residents will be able to register to vote online beginning on (or soon after) July 8. The online voter registration portal will give eligible Virginia citizens the opportunity to apply to register to vote and to update their registration information online, including requesting changes to their residence address. Individuals with a Virginia Driver's License or DMV Customer ID Card will be eligible to submit a registration application or change of registration information request electronically and paperless. All other Virginia citizens eligible to register to vote will be given the opportunity to fill out a Voter Registration Application online and print the form to sign and in mail in their local general registrar.

Please visit www.SBE.Virginia.gov the week of July 8 to join SBE as Virginia takes a major step in modernizing and upgrading its voter registration process.

 

Children’s Services: Connecting Kids to Coverage

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced nearly $32 million in grants for efforts to identify and enroll children eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The Connecting Kids to Coverage Outreach and Enrollment Grants were awarded to 41 state agencies, community health centers (including Virginia Health Care Foundation), school-based organizations and non-profit groups in 22 states; two grantees are multistate organizations.

The awards are part of the $140 million included in the Affordable Care Act and the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (CHIPRA) of 2009 for enrollment and renewal outreach. The grants will build on the Secretary’s Connecting Kids to Coverage Challenge to find and enroll all eligible children and support outreach strategies that have been shown to be successful. Grant amounts range from $190,000 to $1 million.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-Sheets/2013-Fact-Sheets-Items/2013-07-02.html.

From the VCU Office of Health Innovation

The requirement that businesses provide their workers with health insurance or face fines – a key provision contained in the health care law – will be delayed by one year, the Treasury Department said Tuesday. The postponement came after business owners expressed concerns about the complexity of the law’s reporting requirements, the agency said in its announcement. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses employing 50 or more full-time workers that do not provide them health insurance will be penalized. The new delay will not affect other aspects of the health law, including the establishment of exchanges in states for low-income Americans to obtain health insurance.

In preparation for the ACA provision, Virginia lawmakers approved budget language during the 2013 General Assembly Session requiring any hourly waged state employee to limit work hours to an average of 29 hours a week, over the course of a year. All state agencies in the Commonwealth currently implement the policy.

 

July 1, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Senate Committee Approves Funding Allocations 
■ Rates Double for New Student Loans    
■ Governor McDonnell Signs Lyme disease Legislation
■ Legislative Branch Agency Savings
■ Virginia Premier to Participate in Dual Eligible Demonstration
■ Children’s Services: MACPAC Report to Congress
■ HHS Insurance Marketplace Education  
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Senate Committee Approves Funding Allocations   

On June 20, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved funding allocations, also known as 302(b) allocations, for FY 2014 spending bills. Senator Barbara Mikulski (Maryland), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, based the allocations on the $1.058 trillion FY 2014 overall budget for discretionary spending approved by the Senate earlier this year, a figure more than $80 billion greater than the overall target approved in the House.

The Senate and House allocations toward FY 2014 spending for Labor-HHS vary widely. For the Labor-HHS-Education bill, which funds National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other public health programs, the Senate Appropriations Committee is proposing $164.253 billion, a small increase of about $8 billion over FY 2013 spending. By contrast, the allocation for Labor-HHS approved by the House Appropriations Committee earlier this spring is only $121.7 billion, about $42 billion less than the Senate figure, and an 18 percent cut from FY 2013 funding. In a floor speech June 20 about the importance of NIH-funded research in improving health, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) called for a budget conference to restore sequestered funding to NIH.

The Senate Labor-HHS subcommittee is expected to consider its bill in mid-July.

Rates Double for New Student Loans

http://www.studenthelpnetwork.com/images/federal-student-loans.jpgOn Thursday, the U.S. Senate failed to vote on a plan for federally subsidized student loans before the body adjourned for its July 4 recess. The failure means interest rates on new loans will double to 6.8 percent effective Monday, July 1.

The Obama administration and Congressional Republicans supported a long-term change to how interest rates are determined for all federal student loans. Those plans differed in the particulars, but both would have tied interest rates to market rates, allowing them to rise without a cap as interest rates go up in the broader economy. Congressional Democrats pushed for a one- or two-year extension of the current 3.4 percent interest rate for subsidized student loans, arguing that the issue should be settled when Congress debates broader higher education legislation in the coming years. Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa) who chairs the education committee, said that he wanted a one-year fix that would apply retroactively.

Since the federal government is the lender for all new student loans, Congress could adjust interest rates after the fact. But where the money will come to pay for the extension has to be decided.
 
Governor McDonnell Signs Lyme disease Legislation

Governor Bob McDonnell has ceremonially signed today HB1933, the Lyme Disease Testing Information Disclosure Act of 2013. The bill signing took place at Claude Moore Park in the heart of Loudoun County, Virginia. The legislation makes Virginia the first state in the nation to require health care providers to notify those tested for Lyme disease that current laboratory testing can produce false negatives, especially in the early stage of the disease.

For more information about Lyme disease please view the Virginia Department of Health Lyme Disease Fact Sheet at: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/DEE/Vectorborne/factsheets/lyme.htm.

Legislative Branch Agency Savings   

House Speaker William Howell, announced Thursday that various legislative branch agencies are putting $1.8 million back in the state's coffers. Howell said the money comes from savings in 11 legislative branch agencies from the past fiscal year. The money includes $200,000 from unused House of Delegates funds; $900,000 from the Auditor of Public Accounts; more than $100,000 from the Division of Legislative Services; and more than $250,000 from the Capitol Police. Howell said the savings from the House include members using accepting a lower per-diem rate when the General Assembly is in session and reduced salaries.

Virginia Premier to Participate in Dual Eligible Demonstration

http://logosdatabase.com/logoimages/76693076.jpgThe Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) has announced Virginia Premier Health Plan, Inc. has been awarded a contract for the Medicare-Medicaid Alignment Demonstration. The Demonstration was announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2011 to help streamline service delivery, improve health outcomes, and enhance the quality of life for individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid services (“dual eligibles”) and their families. Under the Demonstration’s capitated model, DMAS, CMS, and selected managed care organizations (MCOs) will enter into three-way contracts through which the MCOs will receive a blended capitated rate for the full continuum of Medicare and Medicaid benefits provided to dual eligible individuals. DMAS intends to implement the Demonstration in five (5) regions (Central Virginia, Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Western/Charlottesville, and Roanoke) starting on January 1, 2014, through December 31, 2016.

Children’s Services: MACPAC Report to Congress

http://www.macpac.gov/MACStats.gifThe Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC) has released its June 2013 Report to Congress. This is one of two annual reports MACPAC develops for Congress which provide analyses and recommendations to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The June report examines eligibility and coverage of maternity services in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the primary care physician payment increase, access to care for adults with disabilities, availability of Medicaid and CHIP data and Medicaid program integrity activities. The report also includes a MACStats section, which is a standing section in all MACPAC reports that presents data and information on Medicaid and CHIP. The June report does not make recommendations to Congress or the Administration.

The report highlights challenges states face implementing the physician payment increase and notes the two year time frame for the payment increase may not provide enough data to support an extension of the program. The report also provides a status update on two new data systems the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are rolling out this year. CMS asserts that these systems will allow Medicaid and CHIP data to be collected in a structured and consistent manner across all states and improve the quality and timeliness of data. The report encourages CMS to continue with these efforts, and identifies areas that should be addressed to make sure the new systems do improve the availability and quality of data.

To view a copy of the report, visit https://docs.google.com/a/vcu.edu/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=bWFjcGFjLmdvdnxtYWNwYWN8Z3g6NWE3MTM2NWU4NjhhNDVmYQ.

HHS Insurance Marketplace Education

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched a Health Insurance Marketplace education effort with a new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hours-a-day consumer call center to help consumers prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for private health insurance. The new tools will help consumers understand their choices and select the coverage that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1.

HealthCare.gov is the destination for the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Americans may now access new educational information and learn what they can do to begin to get ready for open enrollment this fall.  The website will add functionality over the summer so that, by October, consumers will be able to create accounts, complete an online application, and shop for qualified health plans.

HHS is on target for open enrollment in the Marketplace, which begins Oct. 1, 2013, and other key milestones approaching in the months ahead. To view key milestones, visit http://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Fact-Sheets-and-FAQs/Downloads/marketplace-outreach-timeline.pdf.

 

June 24, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Kaine Meets with Secretary of Veterans Affairs
■ Senators Working on a Compromise for Student Loan Rates   
■ Medicaid Commission Holds First Meeting
■ Gubernatorial Candidates’ Debate to be Held
■ Second Annual Virginia Leadership Summit
■ NAPH is Now America’s Essential Hospitals
■ Children’s Services: CHoR Visits Capitol Hill
■ American’s Essential Hospitals’ 2013 Annual Conference  
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Kaine Meets with Secretary of Veterans Affairs  

weeklyU.S. Senator Tim Kaine (Virginia), a member of the Armed Services Committee, met Thursday with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to discuss issues facing veterans including the disabilities claims backlog, education, health care access and unemployment.

Kaine has introduced the Troop Talent Act of 2013 to help ease the transition of service members from active duty to the civilian workforce by improving the alignment of specialty skills acquired in the military with civilian credentials or licenses required for post-service employment, expanding existing efforts to meet current workforce demands and match the skills of service members with growth industries, and implementing rigorous standards to ensure credentials translate into the private sector.

In April, following the Senate Budget hearing, Senator Kaine questioned Secretary Shinseki on the issue of backlogged requests to the VA, including serious delays in mental health care treatment Virginia veterans have experienced due to an oversight in a website application form process. In addition, Kaine joined dozens of other Senators on a letter to President Obama calling to reduce the VA Claims backlog.

Kaine was encouraged during Thursday’s meeting to hear first-hand from Secretary Shinseki about the VA’s technological and process improvements and the significant news that 97 percent of all claims over two years old have been eliminated from the backlog.  Since taking office, Kaine has had many opportunities to connect with veterans across the Commonwealth, including roundtables to discuss the Troop Talent Act, Memorial Day Events and a tour of the Salem VA Medical Center.

To read the fact sheet on the Troop Talent Act, visit http://www.kaine.senate.gov/press-releases/fact-sheet-troop-talent-act-of-2013.

 

Senators Working on a Compromise for Student Loan Rates

A bipartisan coalition of Senators including, Richard Burr (North Carolina), Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), and Angus King (Maine), are working on a compromise to avert an approaching July 1 doubling of subsidized Stafford loan interest rates. The draft proposal gained momentum Thursday following a private meeting between Senate Democrats and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, according to senators who attended the meeting.

The compromise under negotiation would create a three-tier loan-rate system for undergraduate, graduate, and PLUS loans which would be tied to the interest rate on a 10-year Treasury note and would be locked at the initial rate for the life of the loan. For example, under the draft proposal, interest rates today would be 3.81% for undergraduate loans, 5.31% for graduate loans, and 6.31% for PLUS loans. Each of the loan rates is lower than the 6.8% rate that would affect all borrowers if no action is taken.

Both President Obama and leading Republicans have offered proposals to tie loan rates to the interest rates on a 10-year Treasury note instead of current law which allows Congress to set the rate. Democrats prefer a two-year extension of the current rate in order to allow more time to revamp the student loan program next year when Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act.
 
Medicaid Commission Holds First Meeting

The Virginia Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) met for the first time on June 17 to review a three-phased plan of reforms outlined in amendments to the state budget. At the meeting, members elected Senator Emmett Hanger, Jr. as chairman and Delegate Steve Landes as vice-chairman. Most of the meeting was devoted to the facts of reforming Virginia’s Medicaid program. Dr. Bill Hazel, Secretary of Health and Human Resources and Cindi Jones, Director of the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), provided updates on the progress of reforms to the state's Medicaid program.

For more information and to view copies of the presentations, visit http://mirc.virginia.gov/meetings2013.html.

Gubernatorial Candidates’ Debate to be Held  

The first debate between Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will take place at 11 a.m. on July 20 at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs Virginia. The debate will be sponsored by The Virginia Bar Association (VBA) and broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff will serve as the moderator. It is open to VBA members, guests, the general public and the news media.

Second Annual Virginia Leadership Summit

On June 21-22, U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and University of Richmond’s President, Dr. Edward Ayers, hosted the second annual Virginia Leadership Summit at the University of Richmond. The two-day event kicked off with a Pre-Summit Networking Reception at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Representing business, government, environment, multicultural groups, and etc., over 500 leaders united through a shared sense of responsibility around Virginia’s future. This year’s Summit brought alumni from various leadership programs together for high-level conversations around the challenges and opportunities in education, jobs, and workforce development. The goal of the summit is to provide an opportunity for Virginia’s leaders to meet and build relationships around a common goal — Shaping the Future for Virginia. Throughout the day, participants engaged in focused discussions on how Virginia can move forward in advancing an economically viable strategy for the 21st century.

For more information, visit http://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/leadership-summit-2013

 

NAPH is Now America’s Essential Hospitals

http://www.essentialhospitals.org/The National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (NAPH) announced Thursday its new name, America’s Essential Hospitals, and its ongoing support of hospitals and health systems that provide high-quality and innovative care to all, including the most vulnerable. A respected voice for hospitals that provide the nation’s disadvantaged with the same quality care all others receive; America’s Essential Hospitals has provided advocacy, research, education, and leadership development to its members, now numbering more than 200, including VCU Health System. The Association also announced a new name for their research affiliate: the Essential Hospitals Institute, formerly the National Public Health and Hospital Institute. The newly named institute and its Research and Transformation centers will continue as key components of our work to advance quality, safety, and efficiency.

To view the press release, visit http://www.naph.org/Main-Menu-Category/Newsroom/2013-Press-Releases/NAPH-is-now-Americas-Essential-Hospitals.aspx.

Children’s Services: CHoR Visits Capitol Hill

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/5911_10152468157785021_1019099996_n.pngOn June 19-20, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR), along with children’s hospitals across the country, traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with lawmakers first-hand as part of the ninth annual Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day. Kendall Lee, Associate Director of Government Relations, Dr. H. Joel Schmidt, Director of the CHoR Cystic Fibrosis Center, Laura Carter, Chair of the CHoR Advocacy Committee and Miranda Franco, Senior Public Affairs Advisor at Holland & Knight, accompanied CHoR patient Anthonie Whitt and his family on the trip. The group met with members of Virginia’s Congressional Delegation and their staff from the offices of Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and Congressmen Rob Wittman, J. Randy Forbes, Robert “Bobby” Scott and Morgan Griffith. The Whitt family shared their story to illustrate why all children need children's hospitals.

To view pictures, visit the VCU Office of Government Relations’ Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/VCUGovernmentRelations.

American’s Essential Hospitals’ 2013 Annual Conference

Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO, VCU Health System and Vice President for Health Sciences, Sheryl Garland, Vice President of Health Policy and Community Relations, and Karah Gunther, Director of Government Relations, represented VCU Health System at America’s Essential Hospitals’ 2013 Annual Conference in Hollywood, Florida, held June 19-21. The Annual Conference is the premier national event for hospital and health system leaders who gather to discuss crucial issues for patients and communities, hear dynamic keynote speakers, and participate in interactive educational sessions. More than 300 peers and experts attended and explored a broad variety of topics — from health information technology and the power of patient engagement to integrated care delivery and population health. The program also included the latest developments in health care policy, the federal budget and CMS regulations.

 

June 17, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: White House Budget Talks Continue
■ Strengthening Accrediting Agency Recognition 
■ Democratic Primary Results
■ Primary Results Lead to Changes in Chairmanships
■ Herring and Obenshain Participate in First Debate
■ Children’s Services: CHA Endorses Important Legislation
■ Excellence in Virginia Government Awards
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: White House Budget Talks Continue

The White House has restarted budget talks with Senate Republicans over the raising the national debt ceiling later this year. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough met Tuesday afternoon with several Republicans who previously dined privately with President Obama. Obama had dinner with 12 Republican senators at the Jefferson Hotel in March and another dozen at the White House in April. All 24 lawmakers were invited to Tuesday’s meeting.

Much of the meeting was spent discussing the severity of the federal deficit and the need to cut spending. Obama reached out to Republican senators earlier this year in the hopes of forging a broad deficit-reduction deal, but Republicans in recent weeks have expressed frustration over the pace of the talks.

Senators Bob Corker (Tennessee), Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire), Dan Coats (Indiana), Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Johnny Isakson (Georgia), Ron Johnson (Wisconsin), Rob Portman (Ohio), and John Thune (South Dakota) participated in the meeting. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the White House budget director, and deputy White House chief of staff Rob Nabors and White House Legislative Affairs Director Miguel Rodriguez also attended.

McDonough reported there was good conversation; however, some of the Senators were less than enthusiastic about the prospects for a deal. A source familiar with the meeting said most of it was spent debating how the nation’s budget picture looks.

Democrats argue the need to cut the budget is less acute than it was in the last Congress, after the Congressional Budget Office lowered its projected federal deficit for 2013 to $642 billion. Graham confirmed that the negotiations at this stage are partly to define the problem. Some Republicans gave the president credit for proposing in his budget plan a new formula to calculate Social Security benefits and healthcare spending cuts. 

 

Strengthening Accrediting Agency Recognition  

Responding to recommendations of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), the U.S. Department of Education has announced its intention to strengthen and better focus the accrediting agency recognition process. Eight regional and 47 national accrediting organizations seeking renewal of their recognition from the federal government will benefit from a streamlined review process, which will focus in more depth on about 25 of up to 93 criteria that are most relevant to assessing institutional quality and the quality of student learning. The change will result in a better, more targeted process that is simpler and less burdensome for accrediting agencies, NACIQI and the federal government. The Department expects these improvements will also enable the postsecondary institutions they accredit to focus additional time and effort on quality enhancement and value.

Democratic Primary Results


http://electionresults.virginia.gov/images/header1.jpg State Senators Ralph Northam and Mark Herring will join gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on the Democratic ticket in November after winning Virginia’s Democratic primary election on Tuesday. McAuliffe, who was unopposed in the primary, will run against Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for governor. Northam, of Norfolk, will face Chesapeake pastor E.W. Jackson in the lieutenant governor’s race, and Herring, from Loudoun, will go up against GOP nominee Mark Obenshain.

The end of the primary marks the start of a general election. Delegate Charniele Herring, chair of Virginia's Democratic Party, released a statement shortly after the races were called, sharing her enthusiasm for the Democratic ticket.

To view unofficial primary election results, visit http://electionresults.virginia.gov/.

Primary Results Lead to Changes in Chairmanships   
 
Two veteran state lawmakers, Delegate Joe May of Loudoun and Delegate Beverly Sherwood of Frederick, were defeated in Tuesday’s primary. Sherwood lost to retired physician Mark Berg and May lost to general contractor Dave LaRock. The losses will mean a greater shifting of committee chairmanships, as May chaired the Transportation Committee and Sherwood chaired House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources. After Tuesday’s primaries, more than one-third of standing House committees may have new leadership in the 2014 General Assembly session.

Herring and Obenshain Participate in First Debate

http://www.vsb.org/docs/conferences/young-lawyers/images/YLC-logo.jpgIn the first debate of Virginia’s general election campaign, State Senators Mark Herring and Mark Obenshain on Saturday, outlined how they would approach the office of attorney general, sparring over gun control, same-sex marriage and abortion rights. The candidates also discussed tighter restrictions imposed on women’s health-care clinics that offer abortions. The hour-long debate was sponsored by the Young Lawyers Conference and held at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach.

Children’s Services: CHA Endorses Important Legislation

Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) has endorsed H.R. 2019, the Kids First Research Act. The bill introduced by Representative Greg Harper (Mississippi), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, would direct additional funding for pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by discontinuing the presidential election campaign fund. The bill currently has over 70 bipartisan cosponsors and has also been endorsed by the Coalition for Pediatric Medical Research. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Virginia) has identified the bill as a priority and indicated he wants to bring the bill to the House floor in the coming weeks. The Association’s endorsement letter also stresses ongoing support for the Pediatric Research Network Act, which the House has passed and is currently being considered by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (H.E.L.P.) Committee.

CHA also has endorsed another bill introduced by a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, The Start Healthy Act of 2013, introduced by Representative Diane DeGette (Colorado). The bill would ensure that no newborn would leave the hospital without health insurance and those who are otherwise ineligible for other programs would be declared “qualified newborns” eligible for Medicaid for one year. States would receive one hundred percent federal match for those newborns for one year. DeGette has introduced this bill in previous Congresses, and the Association sent a similar endorsement letter in the 112th Congress.

Excellence in Virginia Government Awards

http://www.wilder.vcu.edu/images/photos/featured/2013_evga_web_graphic.jpgThe L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University is currently accepting public award nominations through July 1, 2013, for the Ninth Annual Excellence in Virginia Government Awards (EVGA). The EVGA ceremony offers an ideal opportunity to recognize exemplary leadership and innovation. To learn more or to submit an award nomination, visit http://www.wilder.vcu.edu/news/evga.html.

 

June 10, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Engaging Citizens in the Legislative Process
■ Student Loan Interest Rate Legislation Fails to Advance
■ Democratic Primary on Tuesday
■ Governor Signs School and Campus Safety Legislation
■ Medicaid Commission Begins Work
■ Children’s Services: National Conference on Mental Health
■ Excellence in Virginia Government Awards
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Engaging Citizens in the Legislative Process


http://s3.amazonaws.com/dk-production/images/35390/large/cosponsor.jpg?1370552508 House Republicans on Capitol Hill are launching a new website, Cosponsor.gov, aimed at engaging citizens in the legislative process by allowing them to “co-sponsor” bills introduced in Congress. The site is the latest in a series of online initiatives to increase transparency of the House. The site offers users an easy way to track the progress of legislation as it moves through the House and access each bill’s legislative text. It will also include every bill introduced by both Republicans and Democrats.

The experience will be similar to the “We the People” petition website launched by the White House. However, unlike “We the People,” Cosponsor.gov is tied to actual legislative proposals that have been introduced by a sitting Member of Congress.

Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia touted the new site at a press conference Tuesday.
Cantor and the rest of House leadership have a goal to facilitate online accessibility of information about legislation. Those efforts include making legislation available for bulk download in “XML,” an easily used format, the creation of docs.house.gov, a document repository, and houselive.gov, which offers live video of the House floor and the ability to search floor proceedings by keywords.

To view the new website, visit http://cosponsor.gov/.

Student Loan Interest Rate Legislation Fails to Advance

Two dueling bills to avert an increase in the interest rate for new, subsidized federal student loans July 1 both failed to advance in the Senate on Thursday, illustrating the divide between the parties on how best to avoid the rate hike. A Republican bill to set the interest rate based on market rates failed, 40-57, although it was similar in many ways to President Obama's original solution in his 2014 budget request. A Democratic bill to freeze the rate for subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent for two years won a slim majority, 51-46, but did not get the 60 votes needed for procedural reasons.

While the Obama administration has long favored a long-term solution based on market rates, the president endorsed the Democratic bill for a short-term fix. Congress will continue to debate the various plans over the next month.

Democratic Primary on Tuesday

Home Democrats in Virginia are gearing up for a general election primary on Tuesday, June 11. Voters will nominate the party’s candidates for state attorney general and lieutenant governor, as well as House of Delegates races. The lieutenant governor nominee will face E.W. Jackson in the general election and the attorney general nominee will face Mark Obenshain. It is important to note there will be no candidate for governor on the ballot because businessman Terry McAuliffe was the only Democratic candidate to file. He automatically became the party’s nominee to face Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in November.

The polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and any registered voter can participate in the Democratic primary. Voters in Virginia do not declare a party affiliation when they register, so anyone who is registered can claim a Democratic ballot on Tuesday.

To find your polling location and to verify your voter registration status, visit https://www.voterinfo.sbe.virginia.gov/PublicSite/PublicMain.aspx.

Governor Signs School and Campus Safety Legislation  
 
On Wednesday Governor McDonnell signed 12 pieces of legislation designed to make Virginia's schools and campuses safer. The event was held at Robious Elementary School in Midlothian. In addition to the legislation signed, the governor this year identified strategic budget investments to improve school and campus safety; including increased funding for school resource officers and mental health services such as psychiatric and crisis response services, mental health first aid training, and a comprehensive statewide suicide prevention program.

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=1833.

Medicaid Commission Begins Work

The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) is scheduled to hold its first meeting on Monday, June 17 at 1:00 p.m. in House Room D in the General Assembly Building. The meeting is open to the public. For information about the Commission, members and staff, and upcoming meetings, visit the Commission’s website at http://mirc.virginia.gov/index.html.

Children’s Services: National Conference on Mental Health

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/imagecache/embedded_img_full/image/image_file/potus_mental_health.jpg?itok=VqTsAn5sOn Monday June 3, Children’s Hospital Association (CHA), and several member hospitals participated in the White House National Conference on Mental Health in Washington, D.C. Dr. Bela Sood, Medical Director, Virginia Treatment Center for Children, represented CHA and Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU at the day-long event. At the conference, the White House announced the launch of a national conversation on mental health and has invited community partners, including children’s hospitals, to participate in reducing negative attitudes toward seeking mental health services. The Association, in a press release, has publicly pledged support for this initiative, recognizing the significant efforts of children’s hospitals to meet the mental and behavioral health needs of their communities.

To view the press release, visit http://www.childrenshospitals.net/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Newsroom&CONTENTID=66848&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm.

Excellence in Virginia Government Awards

http://www.wilder.vcu.edu/images/photos/featured/2013_evga_web_graphic.jpgThe L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University is currently accepting public award nominations through July 1, 2013, for the Ninth Annual Excellence in Virginia Government Awards (EVGA). The EVGA ceremony offers an ideal opportunity to recognize exemplary leadership and innovation. To learn more or to submit an award nomination, visit http://www.wilder.vcu.edu/news/evga.html.

 

June 3, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Kaine Leads Discussion on Defense Authorization
■ President Obama Speaks on Student Loan Interest Rates
■ Gubernatorial Candidates Speak at Annual Luncheon
■ Democratic Candidates for Lt. Governor Debate
■ Excellence In Virginia Government Awards
■ Children’s Services: Investment in Early Learning
■ Congressional Staff Tour VCU School of Medicine
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Kaine Leads Discussion on Defense Authorization

http://kxxv.images.worldnow.com/images/16434760_BG1.jpgU.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, toured the Norfolk Naval Shipyard on Thursday and led a discussion with shipyard employees as part of a statewide effort to gather feedback ahead of the committee’s negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the coming weeks. The NDAA authorizes funding for military programs during the next fiscal year.

According to Senator Kaine, the second year of automatic cuts in federal spending will hit Virginia and the defense-dependent economy of Hampton Roads harder than most parts of the country. The reductions are part of $1.2 trillion in cuts — known as sequestration — that are spread over 10 years, with half coming from defense and half from domestic programs. The sequester's second year will require about $100 billion in reductions.

The senator predicted a report due this month from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel may provoke some legislative action. Hagel was asked by the Senate Armed Services Committee to outline how the 10-year sequester will affect national defense. He noted that Virginia, with its large military installations and proximity to Washington, is particularly vulnerable.

Senator Kaine’s visit is the latest in a series of stops he has made at military installations across Virginia. Since taking office, he has visited Fort Belvoir, Naval Station Norfolk, Marine Corps Base Quantico, the National Guard Armory in Staunton, Fort Lee, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Naval Air Station Oceana and the Pentagon.

President Obama Speaks on Student Loan Interest Rates  

President Obama has publicly called on Congress to prevent Stafford student loan interest rates from doubling this summer. The president, who spent time on the 2012 campaign trail speaking out against a rate increase, spoke in the Rose Garden on Friday surrounded by college students. He pressed Congress to extend current rates or work toward a compromise to avoid the increase — 3.4 to 6.8 percent — set to take effect July 1.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said reforms are needed, but they are divided over the solution. House members passed a student loan plan offered by Representative John Kline of Minnesota, chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. His proposal ties rates on student loans to the interest on the 10-year Treasury rate. But the White House and many Democrats take issue with that plan because interest rates would change annually.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada following the President’s remarks, announced in a statement that the House legislation is a "nonstarter" and that the Senate will vote on a Democratic-backed plan offered by Reid and Democratic Senators Tom Harkin of Iowa and Jack Reed of Rhode Island. That proposal extends the 3.4 percent interest rate for two years while Congress works on a long-term solution.
                                                                                                                               
The Obama administration had originally proposed a market-based solution of its own — as in the House Republican plan, rates would vary from year to year with interest rates in the broader economy. But, once a loan was issued, the interest rates would be fixed over the life of the loan.

Gubernatorial Candidates Speak at Annual Luncheon

On May 30, Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and businessman Terry McAuliffe, delivered back-to-back speeches at an annual luncheon to benefit the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP), a nonpartisan group that publishes campaign finance data and other information about candidates and officials. Cuccinelli and McAuliffe spoke on the issues of political and governmental transparency. The gathering was not a debate and neither candidate fielded questions from each other or from the crowd. Official campaign debates and their venues are still incomplete, but the first is scheduled for late July, before the Virginia Bar Association's summer conference.

Democratic Candidates for Lt. Governor Debate  

The Democratic candidates for Virginia lieutenant governor, Aneesh Chopra and state Senator Ralph Northam, faced off Sunday in Springfield, Virginia — in an hour-long debate sponsored by The Fairfax County Democratic Committee. Chopra and Northam discussed economic opportunity, women’s health care, and how they would bring their career and public office experiences to the position, among other topics. The Democratic lieutenant governor nominee will face Republican E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake minister, in the general election this fall.

Excellence In Virginia Government Awards

http://www.wilder.vcu.edu/images/photos/featured/2013_evga_web_graphic.jpgThe L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University is currently accepting public award nominations through July 1, 2013, for the Ninth Annual Excellence in Virginia Government Awards (EVGA). The EVGA ceremony offers an ideal opportunity to recognize exemplary leadership and innovation. To learn more or to submit an award nomination, visit http://www.wilder.vcu.edu/news/evga.html.

Children’s Services: Investment in Early Learning

Business leaders and organizations around the country have signed a letter calling on President Obama and Congress to invest in early learning programs. Over 300 business participated including, Dominion Resources in Richmond, Virginia.

Earlier this year, President Obama put forth a “Preschool for All” proposal in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget, and the U.S. Department of Education is currently seeking input from stakeholders on the president’s plan for the federal government to partner with states in making access to high-quality early learning a reality for every four-year-old in America.

The President’s proposal is for a deficit-neutral investment of $75 billion over 10 years to create new partnerships. An additional $750 million will provide competitive grants to states to strengthen their early learning systems. Combined, the proposal will raise the quality of all early learning programs and will align current investments, including home visitation, creating a birth to age five pipeline of services and support that prepares children for kindergarten and beyond.

For more information and to read the full text of the letter, visit www.readynation.org/signatories-business-letter.

Congressional Staff Tour VCU School of Medicine

On May 30, Congressional staff from offices in the Virginia Delegation visited VCU Medical Center, MCV Campus. Staff were greeted by representatives of VCU and VCU Health System for a presentation and tour. Dr. Sheldon Retchin, CEO, VCU Health System and Vice President for Health Sciences, presented an overview of the VCU Medical Center including the missions of the organization and challenges ahead. Following the presentation, staff received a tour of the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Medical Education Center and VCUHS Emergency Department.

 

May 28, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: House Panel Approves Discretionary Spending Cap
■ Variable Interest Rates for Student Loans
■ State Measuring Employee Hours
■ Dual Eligible Demonstration
■ Medicaid Reform Project Matrix
■ Children’s Services: CMS to Host Calls Related to Exchanges
■ 2013 Family Impact Seminar
■ Senate Finance Committee; Tuition and Fee Actions
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: House Panel Approves Discretionary Spending Cap

The Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives has approved a $967 billion discretionary spending cap - the lowest in a decade - for the 2014 fiscal year that starts on October 1. That is an $80 billion reduction from the current fiscal year.

The committee is shifting money toward priorities of defense and homeland security and away from domestic programs. Democrats on the committee criticized the shift which could impact funding for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.

Although several lawmakers held out hope that a comprehensive budget deal this year would turn off the automatic cuts and allow for higher discretionary spending levels, there has been no movement on Capitol Hill toward that goal in recent weeks.

The House panel's actions are also setting up a potential clash with the Democratic-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee, which is preparing to pass spending bills at a much higher cap of $1.058 trillion - a level specified in a budget deal two years ago. That means even if the House can gain enough support to pass its appropriations bills with deep cuts, it will then face a $91 billion difference with the Senate bills, adding to already deep differences over taxes, spending and a looming deadline to raise the government's debt limit in the fall.

Variable Interest Rates for Student Loans

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would create variable interest rates for student loans. The bill, H.R. 1911, passed by a vote of 221 to 198, largely along party lines, but the measure is likely to stall since Senate Democrats strongly oppose it and President Obama has vowed a veto.

Interest rates for federally subsidized Stafford loans will double to 6.8 percent on July 1 if Congress does not act, and both President Obama and Congressional Republicans had originally said they favored a long-term solution. But Congressional Democrats have opposed the House Republicans' plan, which would create interest rates based on 10-year Treasury bonds that would vary over the life of the loan, and want to sustain the 3.4 percent interest rate for another year or two so that Congress can consider the interest rate in the context of the broader renewal of the Higher Education Act.

The Obama administration had originally proposed a market-based solution of its own -- as in the House Republican plan, rates would vary from year to year with interest rates in the broader economy. But, once a loan was issued, the interest rates would be fixed over the life of the loan.

State Measuring Employee Hours

https://si0.twimg.com/profile_images/396354010/DHRMlogo.jpgVirginia has started measuring how many hours state employees work each week to find out how many part-time workers should be receiving health insurance under federal law. On May 1, the state began measuring hours and will continue through April 30, 2014, to determine an hourly average over a year and to identify how many hourly wage employees worked more than 29 hours a week.

Employees who work more than 29 hours a week must be offered health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act, so Governor McDonnell and the General Assembly ordered state agencies this year to limit the hours of hourly wage employees who had been working up to 32 hours a week. A number of state agencies complied with a long-standing state rule limiting part-time hourly workers to 1,500 a year, which works out to an average of about 29 hours a week. But some agencies were granted exceptions to the rule in the past decade.

The state is still waiting for guidance from the Internal Revenue Service on how to treat adjunct faculty, seasonal employees and other employees whose hours vary from week to week. The state is not lumping together the hours of employees who may work for more than one state agency, including adjunct faculty who may work for more than one state higher education institution.

Dual Eligible Demonstration  

Governor McDonnell recently announced Virginia has been approved to implement a new healthcare initiative, the Medicare-Medicaid Enrollee (dual eligible) Financial Alignment Demonstration, aimed at coordinating care for more than 78,000 Virginians currently enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid.

The new initiative, recently branded as Commonwealth Coordinated Care, will coordinate care for individuals who meet certain eligibility requirements and are served currently by both Medicare and Medicaid. Commonwealth Coordinated Care is designed to be the single program accountable for coordinating the delivery of primary, preventive, acute, behavioral, and long-term services and supports for this population.

The goal of this initiative is to provide Virginians high quality health care and supports coordinating the Medicare and Medicaid benefits into a single person-centered program. Through this effort, taxpayers will see greater savings through the delivery of cost-effective and appropriate treatment and services for some of Virginia's most vulnerable citizens.

Commonwealth Coordinated Care begins in January 2014, and will continue through December 31, 2017. Congressional action will be needed in order for the program to continue beyond 2017. A rigorous evaluation will be conducted throughout the demonstration period.

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/News/viewRelease.cfm?id=1820.

Medicaid Reform Project Matrix

The Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) has released the Medicaid Reform project matrix, developed to inform Virginia stakeholders regarding DMAS’s plans to strategically implement Medicaid Reform budget language as passed by the 2013 General Assembly and subsequently signed by Governor McDonnell. Additionally, the project matrix serves as a tool to solicit stakeholder written public comment and support for implementation strategies.

To view the Medicaid Reform project matrix, visit http://www.hhr.virginia.gov/initiatives/healthreform/docs/MedicaidReformMatrixforPublicComment.pd.

Children’s Services: CMS to Host Calls Related to Exchanges

Children's hospitals are encouraged to participate in the first of a series of regular calls with The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Wednesday, May 29 at 1:00 p.m. EDT. This first call will focus on current issues and opportunities children's hospitals are facing related to the implementation of health insurance Exchanges in their states, including provider networks, benefit design, and outreach and enrollment efforts. Children's hospitals participating in the call will engage in a dialog with CMS staff and receive an update on the status of HHS Exchange implementation. The dial-in number is (877) 267-1577 and the access code is 3180. This series of conference calls with CMS will take place every other month on the last Wednesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

2013 Family Impact Seminar

http://www.lano.org/resource/resmgr/2012_public_policy_institute/pinfis_logo.jpgOn May 21, the Center for Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University, presented the 2013 Virginia Family Impact Seminar at the Capitol. This year’s presentation included military and veteran families and focused on strategies for sustainable housing and family well-being.  Welcome and introductions were provided by Dr. Ann Nichols-Casebolt, Professor and Associate Vice President for Research Development, VCU Office of Research, Amy Atkinson, Executive Director, Virginia Commission on Youth, and Catherine Wilson, Deputy Commissioner, Virginia Department of Veterans Services and, Executive Director, Virginia Wounded Warrior Program. The Honorable Kirk Cox, House Majority Leader, and the Honorable Terri Suit, Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, also provided remarks.

Senate Finance Committee; Tuition and Fee Actions

The Senate Finance Committee met on May 23 to learn about the approach taken by several institutions regarding tuition. Representatives from the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary and Virginia Commonwealth University presented their respective plans for the upcoming academic year.  Dr. David Hanson, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, represented VCU. The Committee members appreciated the information and had very few questions

 

May 20, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: House Panel Approves Discretionary Spending Cap
■ Variable Interest Rates for Student Loans
■ Kaine Launches New Senate Website
■ Tavenner Confirmed as Administrator for CMS
■ Republican Party 2013 Convention
■ Children’s Services: Children’s Health Insurance Coverage
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: House Panel Approves Discretionary Spending Cap

The Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives has approved a $967 billion discretionary spending cap - the lowest in a decade - for the 2014 fiscal year that starts on October 1. That is an $80 billion reduction from the current fiscal year.

The committee is shifting money toward priorities of defense and homeland security and away from domestic programs. Democrats on the committee criticized the shift which could impact funding for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.

Although several lawmakers held out hope that a comprehensive budget deal this year would turn off the automatic cuts and allow for higher discretionary spending levels, there has been no movement on Capitol Hill toward that goal in recent weeks.

The House panel's actions are also setting up a potential clash with the Democratic-controlled Senate Appropriations Committee, which is preparing to pass spending bills at a much higher cap of $1.058 trillion - a level specified in a budget deal two years ago. That means even if the House can gain enough support to pass its appropriations bills with deep cuts, it will then face a $91 billion difference with the Senate bills, adding to already deep differences over taxes, spending and a looming deadline to raise the government's debt limit in the fall.

Variable Interest Rates for Student Loans

The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would create variable interest rates for student loans. The bill, H.R. 1911, passed by a vote of 221 to 198, largely along party lines, but the measure is likely to stall since Senate Democrats strongly oppose it and President Obama has vowed a veto.

Interest rates for federally subsidized Stafford loans will double to 6.8 percent on July 1 if Congress does not act, and both President Obama and Congressional Republicans had originally said they favored a long-term solution. But Congressional Democrats have opposed the House Republicans' plan, which would create interest rates based on 10-year Treasury bonds that would vary over the life of the loan, and want to sustain the 3.4 percent interest rate for another year or two so that Congress can consider the interest rate in the context of the broader renewal of the Higher Education Act.

The Obama administration had originally proposed a market-based solution of its own -- as in the House Republican plan, rates would vary from year to year with interest rates in the broader economy. But, once a loan was issued, the interest rates would be fixed over the life of the loan.

Kaine Launches New Senate Website

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine has launched his new Senate website. Through the site, Virginians can contact Senator Kaine and chime in on legislation, access a number of constituent services and seek assistance as they resolve issues with federal agencies. The page also features a Spanish language function.

The website can be found at www.kaine.senate.gov.

Tavenner Confirmed as Administrator for CMS

On May 15, the U.S. Senate voted of 91-7 to confirm Marilyn Tavenner to the post of Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). Last month the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved of Tavenner heading up the agency, however, Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa subsequently put a hold on the nomination, citing concerns over Administration proposals to allow CMS to redirect money from the Prevention and Public Health Fund to pay for ACA implementation. Harkin recently lifted his hold on the nomination. 

Republican Party 2013 Convention

http://www.rpv.org/sites/default/files/2013Convention/ConventionLogo.jpgThe Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) held its 2013 convention at the Richmond Coliseum on Saturday. As many as 13,000 party delegates officially nominated Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as their candidate for governor, E.W. Jackson as candidate for lieutenant governor and state Senator Mark Obenshain as candidate for attorney general.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal kicked off the two-day affair and other featured speakers during the event included Governor Bob McDonnell, Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee, Representative Bob Goodlatte and Representative Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader. On top of choosing the nominees, former Augusta County Republican Committee Chairman Dr. Kurt Michael says one of the main goals of the convention was to bring the party together.

The party’s campaign is now in full swing, starting with a three-day, statewide fly-around which began in Virginia Beach on Sunday afternoon and will include campaign events in a total of ten cities before it ends in Fredericksburg on Tuesday night.

Virginia Democrats will choose their candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general in a June 11 statewide primary election.

Children’s Services: Children’s Health Insurance Coverage

Seven allied children’s health organizations including Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) have released a one pager on key children’s health insurance coverage principles. The document advocates for all children to have comprehensive, affordable and continuous coverage that ensures access to high quality care. The Association and allied organizations are planning to use this document to frame conversations on Capitol Hill about how children will be covered going forward, whether through private or public plans. The current authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) ends in 2015 and children’s health advocates including the Association have begun reaching out to Capitol Hill to initiate a dialogue about how best to ensure that all children receive health coverage that meets the key principles.

 

May 13, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: The Way Ahead on Debt Ceiling Negotiations
■ The Student Right To Know Before You Go Act
■ Virginia Public Service Week
■ Congressional Members Express Support for Expanding Medicaid
■ Children’s Services: CHA Letter to CMS Regarding Exchanges
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: The Way Ahead on Debt Ceiling Negotiations

House Republicans have announced a special two-hour conference meeting to be held this week to discuss the way ahead on debt ceiling negotiations. The meeting is scheduled for the afternoon of May 15 in the Capitol, and members will discuss what posture they believe leadership should take in negotiations with Democrats on whether to raise the debt limit.

According to Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, the meeting is being held to begin the discussion with members about the best way to increase the debt limit consistent with the Boehner rule. The so-called Boehner rule, which has been House Republicans’ starting point in debt limit negotiations, states that any increase in the debt limit has to be accompanied by equal or greater spending reductions or entitlement changes.

The meeting is scheduled for four days before the expiration of the current debt limit extension, but the Treasury Department has the flexibility to move funds around to defer default for a time. This could buy Congress until the end of the summer or later to approve an extension.

Republicans are eager to devise a solution that avoids default while also satisfying their rank and file’s desire for spending reductions. However, many members realize that discretionary spending has been cut thin already and leaves little room for more reductions. As a result, the idea has surfaced to tie a debt ceiling increase to a tax overhaul, although the logistics have yet to be worked out and leadership is not necessarily in favor.

The Student Right To Know Before You Go Act


KBYG Roundtable 1 U.S. Senators Mark Warner of Virginia, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Marco Rubio of Florida, have introduced The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act  to ensure that a wide range of comparative data about higher education programs is more readily available for prospective students and their families. They discussed their bipartisan legislation during a roundtable on Capitol Hill.

The legislation would streamline existing institutional reporting requirements to give students and their families more tools to easily compare graduation rates, student loan debt, employment prospects and potential future earnings as they make important decisions about higher education. The information, which generally is already reported by colleges and universities to a variety of federal, state and other agencies, also will give policymakers the ability to better assess the effectiveness of various government-backed educational programs.  Similar bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House by Representatives Duncan Hunter of California and Robert Andrews of New Jersey.

For more information on The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, visit http://www.scribd.com/doc/140382459/Student-Right-to-Know-Before-You-Go-Act.

Virginia Public Service Week

Governor McDonnell proclaimed May 5–11, 2013 as Virginia Public Service Week, to recognize the dedication and hard work of state employees in serving the citizens of the Commonwealth. The Governor commended state agencies for their efforts to recognize and honor the work of state employees.

To view the proclamation, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/OurCommonwealth/Proclamations/viewproc.cfm?id=324.

Congressional Members Express Support for Expanding Medicaid

On Friday, members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation including, Representatives Robert "Bobby" Scott, Jim Moran and Gerry Connolly, sent a letter to Governor McDonnell urging him to work closely with the members of the newly established Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to take advantage of the increased federal funding the Commonwealth is entitled to under the Affordable Care Act by expanding the Medicaid program.

To view a copy of the letter, visit http://bobbyscott.house.gov/images/pdf/Letter%20to%20Gov.%20McDonnell%20on%20Medicaid%20Expansion.130510.pdf.

Children’s Services: CHA Letter to CMS Regarding Exchanges

On May 6, Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) provided a comment letter to CMS urging the agency to consider the unique coverage needs of children in consumer assistance programs under the Affordable Care Act. The letter was submitted in response to an April 5 proposed rule that implements standards for Navigators and non-Navigator consumer assistance personnel (also called in-person assistors) in federally facilitated and state partnership Exchanges. This proposed rule also implements standards for federally funded non-Navigator assistance programs in state-based Exchanges.

Specific concerns highlighted in the Association letter to CMS include:

  • The need to include specific information on children’s unique coverage needs in Navigator/in-person assistor training modules;

  • The importance of preparing consumer assistance personnel to articulate the differences between accredited and non-accredited health plans; and

  • The burden of proposed implementation of conflict of interest requirements on children’s hospitals and other large, community-based organizations that seek to become Navigators.

In addition, CHA and allied child health organizations submitted joint comments to CMS. This letter also emphasizes the importance of addressing children’s coverage needs in the training for consumer assistance personnel.

 

May 6, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: GOP Focusing on the US Tax Code
■ Annual Report on Medical School Enrollment
■ Independent Ethics Commission
■ Governor’s Teacher Cabinet
■ McAuliffe Officially Launches Campaign
■ Children’s Services: National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: GOP Focusing on the US Tax Code


http://netrightdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Federal-Tax-Code.jpg While lawmakers on Capitol Hill prepare to address the national debt this summer, congressional Republicans are deemphasizing their demand for cuts to retirement programs and focusing on a thorough rewrite of the US tax code. Reining in spending on Social Security and Medicare remains an important policy goal for the GOP. However, House leaders recently launched a series of meetings aimed at convincing rank-and-file lawmakers that tax reform is both wise policy and good politics and should be their top priority heading into talks with Democrats over the need to raise the federal debt limit.

House Ways and Means Committee chairman Dave Camp of Michigan led a recent meeting, offering polling and focus-group data showing voters would like simpler tax laws. Camp has started drafting legislation that would get rid of some exemptions and deductions and replace them with sharply lower rates, an approach championed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairmen of President Obama’s fiscal commission. The House strategy also holds some appeal in the Senate, where key Republicans say it may offer a more palatable alternative to negotiating a budget deal directly with the president.

Senate Republicans are under pressure from the White House to produce their own debt-reduction plan to counter President Obama’s proposal to reduce borrowing by $1.8 trillion over the next decade through higher taxes, as well as cuts to retirement programs. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is staying out of the talks, and it is not clear who would make such an offer on the GOP’s behalf.

Republicans involved in the process hope to channel negotiations through the Senate Finance Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over taxes, Social Security and Medicare.

Annual Report on Medical School Enrollment

https://services.aamc.org/share/images/header-symbol.gifThe Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has released its annual report on medical school enrollment. The report, prepared by the AAMC’s Center for Workforce Studies, is based on the AAMC’s annual Survey of Medical School Enrollment Plans which is part of an ongoing monitoring of enrollment trends. In 2006, in response to concerns of a future physician shortage, the AAMC recommended a 30 percent increase in medical school enrollment by 2015. The survey is sent to deans at all accredited medical schools in the United States in the fall of each year. The aim is to inform the academic medicine community and policymakers about trends and issues related to medical school enrollment.

To view the report, visit https://members.aamc.org/eweb/upload/12-237%20EnrollmSurvey2013.pdf.

Independent Ethics Commission

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday proposed forming an independent ethics commission to oversee elected officials and their staff. According to McAuliffe, as governor he would tighten ethics standards for all elected officials and create an independent eight-member commission to enforce them. McAuliffe said the bipartisan panel’s members would be chosen by the Governor, the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the Senate Majority Leader. The chief justice of the Virginia Supreme Court would also select two members, who could be a retired judge, active member of the bar or a law professor. Republican opponents agree with the need for ethical oversight but not all of the specifics of McAuliffe’s proposal.

Governor’s Teacher Cabinet

Governor McDonnell on Wednesday issued Executive Order No. 63, establishing the Governor's Teacher Cabinet. The Cabinet, comprised of teachers from across the Commonwealth, will advise the Governor and Secretary of Education on policies related to the status of teaching in Virginia. The Cabinet will focus on strategies for enhancing teacher quality, leadership and professionalism for 21st Century learning.

The Governor's Teacher Cabinet will:

  1. Identify additional resources, learning tools and professional development opportunities that the Department of Education could make available to local school divisions;
  2. Recommend strategies for greater parent and community engagement;
  3. Recommend strategies to improve the K-12 education, higher education and workforce collaboration;
  4. Identify any needed improvements to administrative responsibilities; and
  5. Recommend strategies to close the achievement gap and assist disadvantaged students.

To view a copy of Executive Order No. 63, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/PolicyOffice/ExecutiveOrders/viewEO.cfm?eo=63.

McAuliffe Officially Launches Campaign  

On Sunday, Terry McAuliffe officially launched his campaign in front of a crowd of about 200 in Norfolk.  McAuliffe laid out his transportation plan and vision for how the next Governor of Virginia can help strengthen and diversify the Commonwealth's economy. Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim introduced McAuliffe.

For more information on McAuliffe’s "Putting Jobs First" agenda, visit http://terrymcauliffe.com/policy/.

Children’s Services: National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

http://z.about.com/d/depression/1/0/A/n/AwarenessDayColorGen.jpgNational Children's Mental Health Awareness Day will be held on Thursday, May 9. Awareness Day is a key strategy of the Caring for Every Child's Mental Health Campaign, which is part of the Public Awareness and Support Strategic Initiative by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The effort seeks to raise awareness about the importance of children's mental health and that positive mental health is essential to a child's healthy development from birth. The initiative connects cross-disciplinary organizations in their efforts to promote awareness of children's mental health issues, not just on a single day, but year-round.

For more information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/children/?from=carousel&position=3&date=05012013.

 

April 29, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Tea Party Caucus Meets
■ House Committee Seeks Suggestions on Financial Aid
■ Tavenner Confirmation on Hold
■ State GOP Prepares for Convention  
■ Students Reflect on VCU’s Virginia Capital Semester Program 
■ Children’s Services: Support for CHGME Funding
■ MSV Legislative Summit
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Tea Party Caucus Meets


http://images.politico.com/global/news/110913_bachmanntea_ap_328.jpg The Tea Party Caucus is back in action with a new strategy and a growing membership. Roughly 20 House Republicans attended a closed-door meeting Thursday evening on Capitol Hill, along with staffers from nearly 40 congressional offices, including those of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul. TheTeaParty.net organized the meeting, which was closed to press.

Mike Shields, chief of staff to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, spoke at the meeting – an indication that the GOP establishment is making an effort to work with the tea party lawmakers. Also in attendance was conservative radio talk show host Rusty Humphries and representatives from organizations including the Tea Party Express and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

This was the first caucus meeting of the year, and the name at the top of the caucus will continue to be Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who will remain as the caucus chairwoman. Lawmakers present were pleased at the turnout. Niger Innis, chief strategist of TheTeaParty.net, said the group is looking to expand on the Senate side of the Hill. Unlike the last Congress, the Tea Party Caucus will be more active, with having regular, quarterly meetings. But there will be no fixed membership, Innis said.

House Committee Seeks Suggestions on Financial Aid

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce published an open letter to higher education "stakeholders" Thursday, asking for suggestions on rewriting the law governing federal financial aid programs. Representatives are especially interested in areas including, empowering students as consumers; simplifying student aid and loans; increasing affordability, accountability and completion; reducing costs; and balancing the need for accountability with the burden of federal requirements. In a statement, the committee's chairman, Representative John Kline of Minnesota, emphasized paring regulations, simplifying financial aid and providing families with better information. The committee also welcomes specific suggestions via email at HEA.Reauth@mail.house.gov.

To view a copy of the letter, visit http://edworkforce.house.gov/uploadedfiles/04-25-2013.pdf.

Tavenner Confirmation on Hold

Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, chairman of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, has put a pause to Marilyn Tavenner officially heading the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). At a budget hearing April 24, Harkin said he wants answers on why funding for wellness is to be cut from the federal budget. Harkin temporarily put a hold on the full Senate vote to approve Tavenner until an ongoing discussion is established on prevention funding. Tavenner faced a confirmation hearing April 9 and was unanimously vetted by the Senate Finance Committee on April 23. She has wide bipartisan support and a full Senate vote was expected to take place soon. Harkin helped to write prevention measures into the Affordable Care Act, which included a federal budget for preventing disease, the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

State GOP Prepares for Convention


http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Og0nSTsqJ_Y/S7x89V6T_pI/AAAAAAAAAAU/SZyMgVS0gWc/s1600/2009_0509random20100075.JPG The 2013 Republican Party of Virginia Convention will be held on May 17-18 in Richmond. Engaged and energized groups of GOP Delegates, activists, influencers and opinion leaders will gather to nominate the next GOP candidate for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General of the Commonwealth. Keynote speakers will include elected officials and party leaders from Virginia and around the United States. In June 2012, the Republican Party of Virginia’s state central committee voted to switch from holding a primary to a convention to nominate its 2013 statewide candidates. The Democratic Party of Virginia plans to hold a primary on June 11.

For more information, visit http://www.rpv.org/2013vaconvention.

Students Reflect on VCU’s Virginia Capital Semester Program  

VCU students recently reflected on the valuable experience they received this spring by serving as interns at the Virginia General Assembly through VCU’s Virginia Capital Semester program. The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs in the College of Humanities and Sciences began the Virginia Capital Semester Program in 2004 with the mission to train tomorrow’s leaders by providing internships in state government. The program offers interns the opportunity to work alongside Virginia’s leading policymakers, providing a hands-on environment to learn how state government works. Students were paired with senators and delegates across the state, allowing them to watch the evolution of bills and to learn what it takes to truly be a good statesman. Students who participated in the program this spring said the experience helped them develop a better understanding of the Virginia General Assembly and a better idea of how different political leaders play a role in the policy process.

For more information, visit http://news.vcu.edu/news/Virginia_Capital_Semester_Deepens_Students_Knowledge_of_the_Legislative.

Children’s Services: Support for CHGME Funding

As Congress begins to ramp up activity related to FY 2014 spending, Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) continues its advocacy in support of Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) funding. A bipartisan group of 26 senators sent a letter to Chairman Tom Harkin of Iowa and Ranking Member Jerry Moran of Kansas of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee supporting funding for CHGME in FY 2014. The letter was spearheaded by Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Johnny Isakson of Georgia and comes on the heels of a similar bipartisan letter in the House signed by 138 Representatives submitted earlier this month. CHA was also joined by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other pediatric and children’s health organization in submitting a joint letter to the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriation Subcommittees requesting CHGME be funded at $317.5 million for FY 2014.

MSV Legislative Summit


http://www.vasps.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Medical_Society_of-Virginia.jpg Each spring, Medical Society of Virginia MSV hosts a legislative summit where members present proposals that they would like to be considered as a part of the society's legislative agenda. At the summit, these ideas are debated and discussed, allowing members to present multiple perspectives as to how MSV serves the interests of physicians and patients. This year’s summit will be held on Friday, May 3 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Medical Society of Virginia in the second floor board room, 2924 Emerywood Parkway, Richmond, VA 23294.

For more information and to register, visit http://www.msv.org/MainMenuCategories/MemberCenter/PressRoom/News/2013/Attend-MSVs-Legislative-Summit-on-May-3--.aspx.

 

April 22, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Helping Sick Americans Now Act
■ Keeping College Within Reach
■ Tuition Rates for the Upcoming School Year
■ 65th Annual Shad Planking
■ Governor’s Business Plan Challenge 
■ Children’s Services: TRICARE for Kids Workgroup
■ MSV Legislative Summit
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Helping Sick Americans Now Act

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the Helping Sick Americans Now Act (H.R. 1549) by a vote of 27 to 20. The legislation was authored by Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania and Vice Chairman Michael Burgess, M.D., of Texas along with Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri.

H.R. 1549 would amend the Public Health Service Act to direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to transfer unobligated amounts from the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) for fiscal years 2013 through 2016 to help provide temporary health insurance for qualified individuals with pre-existing health conditions.
                                        
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers lose the right to deny people coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The law established temporary high-risk pools as a bridge until the ban on coverage denials takes effect on January 1, 2014. When the healthcare law’s high-risk pools first launched, enrollment fell significantly below initial projections due to requirements and premiums. The administration took steps to which helped lower premiums, but the program’s costs remained high and new enrollment in the program was stopped in February — to ensure that the program’s $5 billion budget would stretch until 2014 for the people already enrolled.

While the program is a relatively small piece of the Affordable Care Act, high-risk pools make up the cornerstone of Republican plans to “repeal and replace” the law. House Republicans have said high-risk pools should replace one of the healthcare law’s most popular provisions — the requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Keeping College Within Reach

On Tuesday, the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, held a hearing entitled, “Keeping College Within Reach: The Role of Federal Student Aid Programs.” During the hearing, members and higher education experts discussed the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and explored the question of whether the federal government should maintain its traditional focus on improving access to higher education, or move toward a system that ties federal aid to student outcomes, job placement, or graduation rates. Former U.S. Department of Education employee Daniel Madzelan offered several suggestions for improving the federal financial aid system, including simplifying the application process and streamlining student loan programs. The Subcommittee will continue to discuss policies to strengthen the Higher Education Act in the coming months.

To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of the hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.

Tuition Rates for the Upcoming School Year

Governor McDonnell has issued a letter urging college presidents and boards to voluntarily keep in-state tuition increases for the upcoming fall semester to the annual increase in the Consumer Price Index. Virginia colleges and universities worked closely with the administration last year to hold tuition increases to an average of 4.1 percent, the lowest average tuition increase in a decade. Virginia's colleges and universities are currently determining tuition rates for the upcoming school year.

To read the full letter, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/utility/docs/letter%20to%20BOV.pdf.

65th Annual Shad Planking

Description: http://sfcg.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/susan-koscis_washington-post_shad-planking.jpgOn Wednesday, politicians around the state held the 65th Annual Shad Planking hosted by Wakefield Sportsmen's Club in Wakefield, Virginia. The Shad Planking is a traditional event that was originally a tribute to the start of the fishing season however it soon gained a political function. Over the years, the gathering has evolved into a political festival — a place for candidates to see and be seen and for the curious to speculate about the likely winners and losers of the year's coming campaign season. This year’s speaker was attorney general and republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli.

For more information, visit http://www.shadplanking.com/.

Governor’s Business Plan Challenge  

https://si0.twimg.com/profile_images/1460568416/twitter-logo.gifGovernor McDonnell invites entrepreneurs, innovators and thought leaders to attend and engage in a 'start-up' conversation on Thursday, May 2nd. The event will also feature an access to capital panel and networking time. In recognition of Virginia’s strong entrepreneurial environment, Governor McDonnell is hosting a statewide competition for the best business plans crafted by undergraduate students this year. Public and private colleges and universities will send their top presenters to Richmond for the Governor’s Business Plan Challenge Hosted by Work It, Richmond. Any student who is interested in presenting a business plan, must contact the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV) for the appropriate contact at your college or university. Send an email to AlanEdwards@SCHEV.edu or visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/governorschallenge/OfficialRules.pdf for the official rules. This contest is designed to stimulate entrepreneurial activity and greater awareness of the resources available to grow entrepreneurship and innovation in Virginia. Event registration deadline is Monday, April 29.

Children’s Services: TRICARE for Kids Workgroup

Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) recently hosted a working group of “TRICARE for Kids” stakeholders. The group included representatives from disability, education, military family, and pediatric healthcare advocacy and professional organizations, and military families. Notably, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) are key members and cosponsors of the working group.

The group was formed to make recommendations to the Secretary of Defense by the TRICARE for Kids (TFK) legislation, which requires a study by the Department of Defense to develop a plan to ensure that TRICARE meets pediatric-specific needs of the military families, and protects access to care. The group also is charged with promoting improvements in pediatric health care for military families, in alignment with the TFK legislation, championed by the Association, and signed into law in January 2013.

CHA is pleased to work with organizations such as AAP, MOAA, National Military Family Association, Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health, The Dixon Center, Autism Speaks, VCU Partnership for People with Disabilities, Military Special Needs Network, and military families, to improve health care for military children, and advance national models of pediatric care that will ultimately benefit all children.

MSV Legislative Summit

http://www.vasps.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Medical_Society_of-Virginia.jpg Each spring, Medical Society of Virginia MSV hosts a legislative summit where members present proposals that they would like to be considered as a part of the society's legislative agenda. At the summit, these ideas are debated and discussed, allowing members to present multiple perspectives as to how MSV serves the interests of physicians and patients. This year’s summit will be held on Friday, May 3 from 2:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Medical Society of Virginia in the second floor board room, 2924 Emerywood Parkway, Richmond, VA 23294.

For more information and to register, visit http://www.msv.org/MainMenuCategories/MemberCenter/PressRoom/News/2013/Attend-MSVs-Legislative-Summit-on-May-3--.aspx.

 

April 15, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Debt Ceiling “Prioritization” Bill
■ GAO Releases New Report on STEM Education
■ Senate Confirmation Hearing for Marilyn Tavenner 
■ Delegate Purkey Announces Retirement
■ Board of Health Offers Final Action to Abortion Clinic Regulations
■ Children’s Services: Past, Present and Future of CHIP
■ Office of Health Innovation: President Obama Budget Details
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Debt Ceiling “Prioritization” Bill


http://www.mn-bank.com/Portals/148312/images/url.jpeg House leaders are planning to bring a debt ceiling “prioritization” bill to the House floor before the end of April. The legislation tries to mitigate the damage of the government reaching the debt limit in the event that negotiations to raise it fail. But Democrats have panned the idea, meaning it is unlikely to be taken up by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

The bill, introduced by Republican Representative Tom McClintock of California, says the government must pay the interest and principal of its debts with incoming tax revenue before any other obligations. If the legislation were enacted and the government did reach the debt ceiling, the result would be a partial government shutdown — as the incoming tax revenue would be enough to cover payments on debt but not nearly enough for all of the government’s obligations. However, the issue of prioritizing payments is complicated because the government’s computer system, housed in the Treasury Department, is designed to make payments in the order they come due, according to the department’s inspector general.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said in a memo to Republican lawmakers that the chamber would consider such a bill in the “near future,” but more specific timing of when the bill would be brought to the House floor had not been disclosed until now.  Republicans are planning to hold an extended closed-door conference meeting hashing out further strategy decisions relating to the debt ceiling after the prioritization bill is passed. The meeting may occur in May, after the next House recess.

GAO Releases New Report on STEM Education

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a new report analyzing the federal efforts, funded at more than $3 billion in total, to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education across 13 agencies. While the report found most of the programs “overlapped to some degree with at least one other program,” the report said this overlap should not automatically be interpreted as redundancy. However, the report also notes that a majority of these programs have not been subject to comprehensive effectiveness evaluations since 2005. In addition, those programs with evaluations were not always in alignment with program objectives. The report was requested by House Education and Workforce Chairman John Kline of Minnesota, who recently held a hearing to review the state of STEM education in America. During the hearing, members discussed the need to re-evaluate the federal government’s STEM investment to ensure it is helping students compete for jobs in these high-demand fields.

To view a copy of the GAO report, visit http://gao.gov/assets/660/653661.pdf.

Senate Confirmation Hearing for Marilyn Tavenner  

http://medicarenewsgroup.com/images/newsmakers/tavenner.jpgMarilyn Tavenner, acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), received accolades from both sides of the aisle at a hearing on Tuesday to consider her nomination to head CMS. Tavenner, who has been running CMS for more than a year on an interim basis, was called in for a Senate Finance Committee vetting after being nominated twice for the position by President Obama. Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana stated he hopes the committee will vote on Tavenner’s confirmation the week of April 15. Tavenner served as principal deputy administrator of CMS since February 2010 and previously as the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources in the administration of former Governor Tim Kaine.

Delegate Purkey Announces Retirement

Delegate Harry Purkey of Virginia Beach has announced he will retire from the General Assembly. Purkey has represented part of Virginia Beach since 1986 and currently serves as chairman of the Finance Committee. To date, a total of nine state Delegates have announced they will not run for re-election this fall.

Board of Health Offers Final Action to Abortion Clinic Regulations  

The Virginia Board of Health voted Friday to require abortion clinics to adhere to the building rules for hospitals. The 11 to 2 vote, followed by an hour of public testimony and defeat of a proposal to grandfather in existing clinics, represents the board’s final say on the matter. The regulations now head to Governor McDonnell for final review before being published in the Virginia Register of Regulations for a 30-day final adoption period — at the end of which the regulations will become effective. Virginia's licensed clinics have less than two years to comply with the regulations. The clinic regulations have been in force on an emergency basis since January 1, 2012.

Children’s Services: Past, Present and Future of CHIP

On May 2, Children’s Hospital Association and allied organizations in cooperation with the Children’s Health Care Caucus will host the second briefing in the Medicaid Matters for Kids briefing series. The upcoming briefing will be CHIP 101: Past, Present and Future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The briefing will provide congressional staff with a basic understanding of the CHIP program, its history, how the program looks today, and the future, including its possible upcoming reauthorization. The lunch briefing is open to the public and will be held at noon in the Capitol, HVC 201.

VCU Office of Health Innovation: President Obama Budget Details

http://cdn1.therepublic.com/smedia/59138af3936c48a6b286fbbdcd4aab8b/thumb_0410dv_pol_obama_budget_wrap_x070a.jpgOn Wednesday, President Obama unveiled a 10 year, $3.77 trillion budget blueprint that would cut spending by about $1.2 billion over the next 10 years. The Budget proposes to cut $400 billion from federal health programs, including $374 billion from Medicare, with the bulk of the cuts falling on drug companies and other providers. It is important to note this proposal is not final law, but rather creates a policy blueprint moving forward. The White House proposal is expected to shape further deficit reduction discussions, and will provide an ideological counterpoint to the budget released by the Republican controlled House in March. Highlights of the proposal include the following:

 

  • Cancel sequestration, which would eliminate the annual 2 percent cut to hospitals’ Medicare payments.
  • Reduce IME payments by ten percent, beginning in 2014, and save $10.98 billion over 10 years ($780 million in 2014).
  • Reduce bad debt payments from 65 percent generally to 25 percent for all eligible providers over three years starting in 2014. Saves $25.5 billion over 10 years ($200 million in 2014).
  • Begin Medicaid DSH reductions in 2015, instead of 2014. The cuts intended for 2014 are then spread over 2016 and 2017, in addition to previously scheduled cuts. Saves $3.6 billion over 10 years.
  • Provide retroactive drug coverage for certain low-income Medicare beneficiaries through a single plan. Saves $123 billion over 10 years ($3.14 billion in 2014).
  • Close the donut hole in the Medicare Part D benefit by 2015, rather than 2020, for brand drugs. Saves $11 billion over 10 years.
  • Reduction in support for the direct costs associated with training physicians within freestanding children’s hospitals. Requests $88 million, a decrease of $177 million below FY 2012.
  • Supports replacing the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) with a period of payment stability lasting several years to allow time for the continued development of scalable accountable payment models. 

 

For a detailed summary of the major health care provisions contained in the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget proposals released by the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services, please contact Ross Airington, Health Policy Analyst in the Office of Health Innovation at airingtonrk@vcu.edu.

 

April 8, 2013

In this update:
■ On Capitol Hill: Administration Budget Details
■ Rates for Subsidized Stafford Loans
■ McAuliffe and Cuccinelli to Debate
■ Lawmakers Approve Amendments to Medicaid Expansion Language
■ Warner to Seek Re-election to the U.S. Senate
■ Children’s Services: Proposal to Expand Pediatric Research
■ Executive Branch Media Talks
■ State & Local Government Meetings

On Capitol Hill: Administration Budget Details

President Obama will propose a budget this week and according to White House officials, Obama’s budget would cut Medicare and Social Security and ask for less tax revenue than he has previously sought. The budget, to be released Wednesday, will fully incorporate the offer the president made to House Speaker John Boehner during December’s “fiscal cliff” talks — which included $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction through spending cuts and tax increases.

The proposal slices $200 billion from defense and domestic budgets and $400 billion from Medicare and other health programs by negotiating better prescription drug prices and asking some seniors to pay more, among other policies. Officials also point out the president’s budget would fund several new priorities, including the creation of a program offering preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income backgrounds. The president would also seek to get rid of a loophole in the law that lets people collect both unemployment insurance and disability payments — so called double-dipping.

With the House and the Senate having passed dueling budget proposals, both sides will see whether they can find a compromise. In addition, Congress and the White House will have to agree to a new budget plan by the end of September.

Rates for Subsidized Stafford Loans

http://cheapscholar.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/stafford_loans.jpgThe rate for subsidized Stafford loans is set to increase from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent if Congress fails to act. One year ago, lawmakers faced a similar deadline. The new rates apply only to those who take new subsidized loans. Students with outstanding subsidized loans are not expected to see their loan rates increase unless they take out a new subsidized Stafford loan. Students' unsubsidized loans are not expected to change, nor are loans from commercial lenders.

House Education Committee chairman John Kline of Minnesota, and the committee's senior Democrat, George Miller of California, have recommended to keep rates at their current levels but have not outlined how they might accomplish that goal. Representative Karen Bass of California recently introduced a proposal that would permanently cap the interest rate at 3.4 percent.

Neither party's budget proposal in Congress has money specifically set aside to keep student loans at their current rate. The House Republicans' budget would double the interest rates on newly issued subsidized loans to help balance the federal budget in a decade. Senate Democrats want to keep the interest rates at their current levels, but the budget they passed does not set aside money to do that.

McAuliffe and Cuccinelli to Debate

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe has agreed to take part in five debates ahead of this year’s contest. It is likely McAuliffe with face Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in November. Last week, the Democratic Party of Virginia certified McAuliffe as its nominee after he submitted more than 35,000 signatures to qualify for the primary ballot. Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said that the attorney general looks forward to debating McAuliffe in every region of the state and details would be forthcoming. Dates have not been set for all of the debates, but the earliest one on the calendar, to be hosted by the Virginia Bar Association, will take place on July 20.

Lawmakers Approve Amendments to Medicaid Expansion Language

The General Assembly reconvened Wednesday for its one-day session to address Governor McDonnell’s vetoes and amendments to bills. The House and Senate approved, with some debate, budget amendments which add more detail to a list of conditions that would have to be met before Virginia could expand Medicaid. Overall, Governor McDonnell offered amendments to 80 bills and vetoes to six bills passed in the legislative session. The House and Senate upheld over 88 percent of those amendments.

For more information, visit http://www.governor.virginia.gov/news/viewRelease.cfm?id=1749.

Warner to Seek Re-election to the U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator Mark Warner will seek re-election in 2014. Warner's press secretary, Beth Adelson, announced on Thursday he will seek a return to the U.S. Senate when his term expires next year. He considered a run for his previous job as governor, but has abandoned the idea. Warner held the Virginia gubernatorial office from 2002 to 2006.

Children’s Services:  Proposal to Expand Pediatric Research

http://diamondblackfananemia.org/_w0rdpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/The-NIH-Common-Fund-Banner.jpgHouse Majority Leader Eric Cantor is backing a proposal to expand pediatric research. The legislation, to be introduced in the coming weeks, will seek to save about $100 million over 10 years from the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and spend more on research of pediatric diseases and disorders at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through its NIH Common Fund. That fund was created for programs that require participation by at least two NIH centers, or programs that would benefit from strategic coordination, according to the NIH. The upcoming proposal will be sponsored by Representatives Gregg Harper of Mississippi and Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

 

For archives beyond this date, please contact VCU Office of Government Relations at (804) 828-1235 or by e-mail

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