We are entering the final week of the 2018 General Assembly! This week will be a busy one, as there are hundreds of bills still waiting to be acted on by both the House and Senate, plus we still have to work on our budget. I would like to take a moment to give you an update on the budget and provide you with an update on some of the important bills that are already headed to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk awaiting his signature.
This week the House and Senate both announced members who will serve as “budget conferees.” The six members from the House and the seven members from Senate will work together to reach a consensus on a final budget that can pass both the House and Senate. The biggest difference between the two budget proposals is over Medicaid expansion. The two budgets are $600 million apart. As you know, I voted against the House budget proposal due to its inclusion of Medicaid expansion and the long-term consequences expansion would have on the fiscal health of the Commonwealth of Virginia and our citizens. Therefore, I was not appointed by the Speaker to be a budget conferee, which I have served for a number of years.
In addition to House Bills 761 and 776, which have been signed into law, House Bills 344, 347, 760, 775, 897, 916, 1148, 1551, and 1599 have passed in both the House and Senate and await Governor Northam’s signature. You can learn more about these bills here. As always, you view the status summary of all my bills here. I am proud of the work my colleagues and I have accomplished this session. We have passed commonsense measures to advance our “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda. The legislation I have sponsored this session has focused on my continued commitment to economic development and providing the best education for our students and is part of our larger effort to grow our economy, make K-12 educational investments and support infrastructure improvements in the Commonwealth.
Some of Your Medical Prescriptions May Now Cost Less
The House of Delegates earlier this year passed a bill that will end the practice of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) requiring pharmacists to charge higher copays than the cash price of the prescription drug. That piece of legislation has now passed the Senate and is headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
If you aren’t familiar with this issue, a recent news investigation exposed customers being forced to pay copays that exceeded the cash price of the drug. The investigation found PBM’s are requiring pharmacists to sign “gag clauses,” which prevent pharmacists from informing customers that the cash price for the drug may be cheaper than the insurance copay. The investigation found one instance where a customer was charged $50 for their copay when the cash price of the drug was just over $11. You can view the full investigative report here.
I am proud to support this piece of legislation, which will save you money on medical prescriptions that are vital to your health. The practice of overcharging patients disproportionately affects our senior citizens. We should do whatever possible to make sure those in need of prescription medication get it at the best price possible. This is just another example of the “Practical Solutions to Everyday Issues” agenda we have prioritized this session.
House District Advisory Committee Visit
I would like to thank the members of the 25th House District Advisory Committee that visited Richmond on Thursday. We had a great discussion regarding the issues before the General Assembly this session. We also had the honor of hearing from fellow Valley Delegate Tony Wilt, Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, Senate Finance Co-Chairman Emmett Hanger, and Speaker Kirk Cox. We were all grateful for my colleagues taking time out their schedules to share their thoughts on this year’s session with HDAC members, and for HDAC members that took the time to head down to Richmond and provide their perspective on things. I am always appreciative of the input I receive from folks back home!
We had a large Valley contingent visit us on Tuesday, when members of the Come in and Get Acquainted Regularly (CIGAR) Club made the trek to Richmond. Dick Halterman and roughly 50 CIGAR Club members (pictured above) got to hear from me, and fellow Valley Delegates Dickie Bell, Ben Cline, and Tony Wilt, as well as Senator Mark Obenshain. I enjoyed meeting with University of Virginia President Dr. Teresa Sullivan and Executive Director of the Virginia Commission of the Arts, Margaret Vanderhye. My staff appreciated the chance to speak with Tamara Wagester, Executive Director of Crossroads to Brain Injury Recovery, Inc. and Natasha Skelton of the Valley Conservation Council.
In Case You Missed It
My Legislative Director, Judy Wyatt, Communications Director, Will Wrobleski, and I are here to serve you. If you need help with a state government agency or issue, we can be reached by phone at 804.698.1025 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our address is Post Office Box 406, Richmond, Virginia 23219. For scheduling requests, please contact my Administrative Assistant Pam Stump in my Richmond office.
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Thank you again for allowing me to serve as your Delegate.