PSV Virginia News

Summer 2019 Issue


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Legislative Update

Mark P. Hickman

By James Pickral and Mark Hickman
Commonwealth Strategy Group 

With this year’s General Assembly session officially over and the Governor’s actions on bills and the budget complete, we now move to following legislative bodies and regulatory boards that meet throughout the year. We are also closely following the 2019 election season in Virginia, which will be one of the most important cycles in a generation, with control of the General Assembly at stake.

It’s never too early to contribute to PsychMD PAC. For more information about this year’s elections and the PAC, please see the PsychMD PAC section of this report below and contribute today!

Deeds Commission
The Joint Subcommittee Studying Mental Health Services in the Commonwealth in the 21st Century, known as the Deeds Commission, met on May 22, 2019. The Commission received several presentations, mostly on children’s mental health services.

First, Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Resources Marvin Figueroa provided an overview of the SB 1488 Workgroup studying the high census at state hospitals, the Emergency Custody Order (ECO) process and the impact of Temporary Detention Order (TDO) admissions. PSV is a member of the workgroup, which is charged with developing short- and long-term solutions to reducing pressures on the census in state hospitals for individuals with mental illness. The workgroup has held two meetings and will next evaluate law enforcement custody of individuals during the ECO period and extending the eight-hour ECO period “bed of last resort” requirement. Two more workgroup meetings will be held before draft and final reports are submitted to the Secretary of Health and Human Resources and the General Assembly by October 15 of this year.

Presentations on children’s services included those from Voices for Virginia’s Children, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) Office of Child and Family Services and the Department of Social Services Division of Family Services. The Department of Medical Assistance Services, which administers Virginia’s Medicaid program, also gave an update on the Medicaid Behavioral Health Redesign, a joint effort with DBHDS to “right size” the state’s behavioral health system to focus on preventative and outpatient care as part of a comprehensive continuum of services. One of the goals of this transformation is to better serve children, who face a complex and overcrowded system in both public and private hospitals that often leaves them underserved. One of the goals will be to promote telemental health across levels of care, including for children.

Joint Commission on Health Care
The General Assembly’s Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC) met on May 8, 2019 to review this year’s seven study topics. Two of interest to PSV are Naloxone Public Storage & Access and Supportive Decision-Making for Individuals with ID/DD. HJR 653 requested that JCHC study the feasibility of expanding naloxone access through the placement of naloxone in automated external defibrillator (AED) cabinets, and other public places that are staffed, across the Commonwealth. HJR 729 was tabled with a Letter of Request for JCHC to examine the use of supported decision-making for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Commonwealth, compare the Commonwealth’s policies and practices related to supported decision-making and informed choice to the policies and practice used in other states and examine the situations in which the use of supported decision-making is an appropriate alternative to the appointment of a guardian.

We will continue to follow the JCHC and Deeds Commission.

Broadband Access and Telemedicine
PSV is a member of Commonwealth Connect, the Governor’s coalition supporting broadband internet access throughout Virginia. PSV President Dr. John Urbach and Past President Dr. Varun Choudhary co-authored an Op-Ed published in the Virginian-Pilot explaining how technology like telehealth can help eliminate barriers to care. You can read the Op-Ed here.

MSV Specialty Advisory Council
The Medical Society of Virginia’s (MSV) Specialty Advisory Council met on May 29, 2019 to give input on MSV’s long-term advocacy agenda and this year’s advocacy proposals from the MSV Advocacy Summit held earlier this year. After input from the Specialty Advisory Council, comprised of leadership representatives from the various state specialty societies, the proposals will be considered by the MSV Board of Directors, who will determine which proposals will be adopted as MSV’s legislative priorities for the 2020 General Assembly Session.

The main medicine/healthcare issues from the 2019 General Assembly session were balance billing, Medicaid reimbursement rates, prior authorization and step therapy and public health. MSV’s long-term advocacy agenda includes insurance reforms, advancing the profession, innovation in medicine and population health and wellness. PSV Past President Dr. Susie Waller represented PSV.

PsychMD PAC is your profession’s voice in the political process. Contributing to the PAC is investing in your profession, patients and high-quality healthcare from psychiatrists. A robust PAC helps ensure that policymakers understand that psychiatrists are leaders and experts in mental and behavioral health and that you are committed to helping your patients not only through providing care, but also being strong advocates for sound policy.

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 with 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 contribute today and encourage your peers to donate. You can mail a check payable to PsychMD PAC to 118 N. 8th Street, Richmond, VA 23219, or make a contribution online. New online option: Payments can now be made on a monthly recurring basis in addition to a one-time payment.

Thank you to all our contributors this year!

Dr. Tony Graham


Dr. Meredith Lee


Dr. John Urbach


Dr. Susan Waller


Dr. Steve Cunningham


Dr. Ed Goldenberg


Dr. James Krag


Dr. Leslie Kryzanowski


Dr. Rebecca Lindsay


Dr. Stephanie Peglow


Dr. Adam Kaul


Dr. Ajay Kuchibhatla


Dr. Joe Mason


Dr. David Markowitz


Dr. Ashvin Patel


Dr. Douglas Chessen


Dr. Larry Conell


Dr. Caroline Coster


Dr. Helen Foster


Dr. Kenneth Miller


Dr. Karl Northwall


Dr. John Shemo


Dr. Raymond Alderfer


Dr. Michael Bick


Dr. Shaheen Ali



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