I hope you are all having an enjoyable spring. As summer approaches, I'd like to take a moment to provide you with an update on some of the legislative activities at the state and federal level. There has been a lot happening in the area of healthcare in particular, and I encourage you to keep reading below to learn more!
Direct Primary Care Legislation
Healthcare remains an issue of great concern for all of us. I am pleased to note that Governor McAuliffe has approved my direct primary care legislation, House Bill 2053, which will allow direct primary care agreements in Virginia. This bill will establish a new and innovative healthcare delivery model between patients and doctors and I am grateful for the bill's passage. You can read more about House Bill 2053 here.
Joint Subcommittee for Health and Human Resources Oversight
On April 20th, House Appropriations Chairman S. Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, appointed me to serve on the Joint Subcommittee for Health and Human Resources Oversight. I am grateful to Chairman Jones for this appointment and look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to explore ways to respond to healthcare changes at the federal level, provide ongoing oversight of Medicaid and the children’s health insurance programs, and to provide oversight of Health and Human Resources agencies. The General Assembly is committed to strengthening and expanding our healthcare safety net and this Joint Subcommittee’s oversight will help us to identify and recommend the reforms necessary to improve healthcare access and affordability for all Virginians.
The Joint Subcommittee for Health and Human Resources Oversight was created from language adopted in House Bill 1500. The Joint Subcommittee will be composed of four members of the House Appropriations Committee and four members of the Senate Finance Committee. It will recommend actions to be taken by the General Assembly to address the impact of federal legislation that would affect the state budget and current healthcare coverage available to Virginians. Additionally, it will provide ongoing oversight of initiatives and operations of Health and Human Resources agencies. We'll be having our first meeting later today!
Virginia Chamber of Commerce Awards
Last week, I was given the “Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award” and named a “Champion of Free Enterprise” by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce for my work in the 2017 General Assembly session. I am grateful for the Chamber’s recognition of my work on economic development and education and I appreciate the support of business leaders across the Commonwealth. Economic development and education have long been legislative priorities of mine and I am pleased with what we accomplished in the General Assembly this session to advance these issues in Virginia.
I received a 100% on the Virginia Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Report Card, having voted for the Chamber’s legislative priorities in support of Blueprint Virginia. That record earned me the title of “Champion of Free Enterprise. I also have an A+ lifetime record, with a 99% voting record with the Chamber. The Excellence in Education and Workforce Development Award was given to me for my sponsorship of House Bill 2341, which requires private sector business and industry representation in the Commonwealth's Board of Education. This bill becomes effective July 1, 2017. Additionally, I introduced House Bill 2342, which would have allowed the establishment of regional public charter school divisions, providing an option for parents in areas where struggling schools exist. Unfortunately, Governor McAuliffe vetoed this bill that would have provided increased opportunities for parents and their children in school systems with failing schools. Click here to view the Virginia Chamber's 2017 Legislative Report Card.
American Health Care Act Update
With passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, I’d like to provide you with some background on this important legislation. According to a White House release, the AHCA is designed to protect the most vulnerable Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions. In the House version of the bill, individuals cannot be denied coverage on the basis of a pre-existing condition. The bill provides over $120 billion for states to keep plans affordable. $8 billion is specifically directed to states that waive certain Obamacare rules to ensure plans stay affordable for those with pre-existing conditions. Insurance companies are banned from increasing premiums or turning away patients from renewing their plans simply because they are sick. $79 billion is being restored to hospitals that provide a high proportion of care to the most vulnerable, including those on Medicaid and Medicare. $100 billion is being provided to states to help low-income Americans access affordable health care. $15 billion is being provided for the maternity, newborn, mental health, and substance abuse care. $8 billion is being provided to Americans who see changes in premiums due to their state’s decision to seek a waiver for some community ratings. Medicaid financing is reformed to send money to states based on population, prioritizing funding for the most vulnerable and economic distress. States will have the option of both a block grant and work requirements for certain populations.
The AHCA will reduce the costs of health care for Americans, while providing greater choice and flexibility. Middle and low-income Americans will receive monthly, advanceable, and refundable tax credits to help pay for healthcare premiums. Tax credits will range from $2,000 to $14,000 a year and will adjust to make sure older Americans receive proper support. Americans will have expanded access to health savings accounts (HSAs) by nearly doubling the maximum allowed tax-deductible contribution. One-size-fits-all mandates will be eliminated to free States to create marketplaces that promote innovation and competition. Job-based health insurance is preserved and relief is provided from the current law’s “Cadillac tax.” The AHCA will reduce Federal spending while lowering taxes for Americans; reducing the deficit as major entitlement reform capping Medicaid spending will save taxpayers nearly $840 billion. Americans, including middle-income and small business owners, will see nearly $1 trillion in tax relief. The Bill now heads to the U.S. Senate where it is expected to be amended as it moves through the legislative process. We will all be watching as changes are made to the version the House passed. As noted earlier, I will be following the AHCA on the new Joint Subcommittee for Health and Human Resources Oversight.
As we head into the summer months, my campaign, as well as the weather will be heating up. I am pleased to announce the addition of Patrick Stott as my Campaign Manager. Patrick is a James Madison University student and College Republican who has worked on a number of campaigns, including Congressman Goodlatte and Senator Obenshain, among others. If you've noticed our signs popping-up throughout the district, you've got Patrick to thank! Should you like to request a yard sign, bumper sticker, or want to learn how you can get more involved in the campaign, please contact Patrick by email at Patrick@SteveLandes.com or by phone at (804) 385-6786. If you know of an upcoming event that would be good for me or our campaign to attend, please let us know!
404 North River Precinct Polling Location Change
The 404-North River Polling location has been moved from the Pleasant Valley Elementary School to the Massanutten Technical Center, located at 325 Pleasant Valley Road in Harrisonburg. This change is effective beginning with the June 13 primary and will remain in place for all future elections as well. The change is due to the major construction project at the Pleasant Valley Elementary. Please click here for additional information.
Presentation on New Voting Machines for Augusta County
On June 1st at 6:30 pm at the Staunton City Council Chambers, Dr. Clara Belle Wheeler will be giving a presentation on the new voting machines for Augusta County. The County has new voting machines that will be in use beginning with the June Primary. Dr. Wheeler will provide an overview of the new voting machines, including afour-minute “how to” video. She’ll also discuss the many forms of voter fraud, from registration irregularities to simple outright illegal voting and provide attendees with a list of actions that can be taken to prevent Voter Fraud.
Dr. Clara Belle Wheeler is a native of Charlottesville with an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and English Literature from Hollins College. She attained her Doctorate in Medicine at the Medical College of Virginia where she served her Internship in General Surgery. She then conducted her residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Combined Orthopedic Surgery, Boston, Massachusetts and followed that with private practices in Boise, Idaho and Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is active in the election process and has been the Chairman of the Albemarle County Electoral Board and Chairman of the Western District of the Virginia Electoral Board Association. She is the Vice Chairman of the three-person State Board of Elections.
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Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.