PSV Virginia News

Spring 2019 Issue


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Legislative Update

Mark P. Hickman

By James Pickral and Mark Hickman
Commonwealth Strategy Group 

2019 Session Summary

Budget Compromise, Sine Die and Reconvened Session
Tax conformity and the budget began as this session’s major issue before the scandals and controversies that consumed the capital this year. The recent federal tax cuts potentially created a revenue windfall of about $1 billion for Virginia and required that the General Assembly decide whether and how to align Virginia’s tax code with new federal standards so Virginia residents could file their tax returns. The Governor had hoped to issue a refund as a tax credit for low-income working families and use the surplus to fund budget priorities. Republicans preferred to issue a broader refund to middle class taxpayers.

After the scandals broke, the Governor and the General Assembly quickly and quietly agreed on a compromise that Northam recently signed. The emergency tax legislation allows Virginians to properly file their tax returns this year. The compromise gives a rebate to taxpayers this year and then raises the standard deduction next year to conform to the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Monies left to fund budget priorities were far lower under this plan, and the state budget that Senate and House conferees agreed to focus on items that must be fully funded and other shared high-priority areas like K-12 education and higher education, affordable housing, broadband internet access and economic development. Many of the Governor’s original one-time budget requests were cut.

The General Assembly had to extend session by one day in order to give lawmakers a full opportunity to review the budget compromise. The 2019 regular session adjourned Sine Die on Sunday, February 24. The Governor had until March 26, 2019 to act (sign, amend or veto) on all legislation, including the budget, passed by the General Assembly. The legislature reconvened on April 3 to vote on whether to accept or reject the Governor’s actions.

Legislation of Interest
Balance Billing Reform – Support

Certificate of Public Need (COPN) Reform – Support

Health Credentialing for Mental Health Professionals – Support

Physician’s Assistants (PA) – Monitor

Step Therapy Reform – Support

Budget Items of Interest

Governor’s Amendments to the Budget
The Governor made a total of forty amendments to the budget passed by the General Assembly. In addition to the balance billing workgroup amendments mentioned above, below are other amendments of interest accepted by the General Assembly:

Amendment 2 (Item 1): Extend Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services. This amendment extends the work of the Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century, commonly referred to as the Deeds Commission, to the end of the biennium.

Amendment 16 (Item 310): Amend Language Related to Right-sizing the Behavioral Health System. This language amendment clarifies that separate reports will be issued on the impact of Temporary Detention Order (TDO) admissions on state hospitals and a plan to “right size” the state hospital system to be issued by October 15, 2019, and November 1, 2019, respectively. In addition, language is added that requires the Commissioner of DBHDS to review the feasibility of relocating forensic beds away from Central State Hospital (CSH). This analysis shall include a review of the cost, timeline, and workforce impact of relocating CSH’s forensic beds to a different location. A separate amendment to Item C-48.10 authorizes construction of a replacement facility at CSH.

Amendment 28 (Item C-48.10): Replace Central State Hospital. This amendment adds $315,000,000 from the Non-General Fund for a project to replace Central State Hospital with a 252-bed facility to the 2019 Capital Construction Pool.

PSYCHMD PAC and 2019 Elections
2019 is a pivotal election year in Virginia. It is not an overstatement to say that this year’s election may be one of the most critical for the Commonwealth in a generation. All 140 seats in the General Assembly – 100 in the House of Delegates and 40 in the Senate – will be on the ballot. Both chambers are under narrow Republican control, 51-49 in the House of Delegates and 21-19 in the Senate of Virginia. We fully expect partisan control of both chambers to be at stake this election.

PSYCHMD PAC is a critical tool in our advocacy program. It allows us to support legislators who are friendly to our profession and issues in the General Assembly. Every year the legislature considers bills that could potentially impact our profession and patients. A strong PAC provides us the opportunity for our voice to be heard by elected officials in the legislature and executive branch. Our PAC enables us to support legislators who support our profession. Our goal is to keep Delegates and Senators who are friendly to our issues in the legislature.

Please consider making a donation to PSYCHMD PAC and encourage your peers to donate.

Thank you to all our donors this year!



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