RICHMOND, VA, 7 MARCH 2018: The General Assembly completed action on three bills to lower the cost of healthcare and health insurance for Virginians today. The bills will increase insurance choice for areas with only one carrier, expand the low-cost catastrophic care coverage option, and increase competition among healthcare providers.
Senate Bill 844, sponsored by Senator Siobhan S. Dunnavant (R-Henrico) and incorporating a proposal by Senator Bryce E. Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), will allow less expensive “short-term” coverage plans to be offered for 364 days. It also establishes policies encouraging health insurers to offer plans in more areas of the Commonwealth. On February 20, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services proposed new rules to allow states to offer short-term limited-duration insurance, which will make Virginia one of the first states to offer these plans were the Governor to sign Senate Bill 844.
Senate Bill 935, sponsored by Senators Dunnavant and Frank W. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach), would allow more Virginians to participate in insurance “pools” by expanding the availability of group insurance plans.
Senate Bill 964, sponsored by Senator Sturtevant, would allow catastrophic health coverage plans, which provide essential health benefits, to be offered to Virginians age 30 and over. Currently, such plans, which are significantly less expensive than other plans offered under the terms of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are available only to those under the age of 30.
Yesterday, the House passed all three of these bills by votes of 51 to 46. The Senate concurred with House amendments to Senate Bills 844 and 964. All three bills are now headed to Governor Northam for action.
In a February 21 editorial, the Richmond Times-Dispatch wrote that the Senate Republican Healthcare bills “would make many ordinary Virginians somewhat better off and some ordinary Virginians substantially better off.”
“We are gratified that the House has joined us in supporting legislation to alleviate the high cost of healthcare and health insurance for Virginians,” Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment, Jr. (R-James City) remarked. “Senate Republicans advanced these commonsense approaches to reduce the cost of healthcare while increasing affordability and access.
“We are grateful to our House Republican colleagues for their united support for the Senate Republican Healthcare package, and hope that Governor Northam will act expeditiously to institute these reforms.”