Now that we have completed the regular 2010 session, I am focused on the additional responsibilities that I have as a legislator. This includes the various commissions that I serve on such as the Tobacco Commission, the Center for Rural Virginia, the King Commission, and the Small Business Commission. As a legislator, I am also invited to and honored to join various groups such as the regional Rescue Squad Competition Awards ceremony as I did Saturday evening.
Virginia’s Rural Center
The Center for Rural Virginia had its spring meeting in Lynchburg last week. Legislation passed during the session added the Lt. Governor and Secretary of Commerce and Trade to the Center's Board. It has been my honor to serve as the chairman of the Center since its creation several years ago. Over the course of this time we have tried to help other parts of the state better understand the challenges and opportunities in rural Virginia. This year we were selected as the lead organization along with USDA Rural Development in putting together a rural forum for the 14 Southern states. This will be held on the 11th and 12th of May. Additionally we will be setting up regional meetings of legislators, local government, and business leaders to discuss how better to address the issues we in rural Virginia face.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
All things that are made, regardless if by individuals or government have impacts. We must always consider not only the direct effect of those decisions but also the secondary effects. When Congress passed the National Healthcare legislation, it set up a series of decisions that states, businesses, and families will have to make.
States The additional funds to pay for the state portion of Medicaid are expected to be close to $2 billion. This will take effect in a couple of years as we try to come out of the depth of the recession. Just when teachers and state employees were expecting restored funding, we will be forced to find $2 billion new tax revenue. If the economy is growing, this will eat up projected growth.
Businesses will face increased premium rates because of federal policy that will drive rates. Some businesses will chose to shift a greater portion of the monthly premiums to the employees. Others will opt to get out of the health insurance benefit completely, choosing instead to simply pay the $2000 penalty for each employee. Some of those will pass the difference to the employees to buy insurance on their own, others will not.
Families will fall into two categories - those that had a preexisting condition that made health insurance impossible to obtain, will be better served by the federal legislation. Those that had insurance will be faced with higher premiums for several reasons. First, group policies must factor in the preexisting conditions of others. Second, the employer may have to reduce the company's portion of that bill - shifting more to the employees. Still others may have their employer simply drop the insurance benefit.
Some families will pay the higher rates. Others, however, will choose to drop their insurance and simply pass the federal penalty until they have health problems. This of course will leave groups with smaller, less healthy groups. This too will increase premiums of those who stay in the group.
I have been trying to stay in closer contact with folks either through these emails, speaking with civic organizations, or the tele-town hall we held last month. I hope to continue to improve our relationship. If I can be of assistance, please call me. If you have legislation that you want me to consider, thoughts on recent legislation, or would like for me to speak at your civic groups next meeting, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 434 374 5129.
15th Senatorial District