While we all are celebrating the passage of the new state budget which expands Medicaid eligibility to an estimated 400,000 uninsured working Virginians, and thus allows us to increase funding in education and mental health, while raising the salaries of teachers, first responders and state employees with the resulting savings. The budget sets out a tight timeline for developing the Medicaid application and submitting it for federal approval. Even so there will be a time lag between the enactment and the implementation of the actual expanded healthcare access. Although our Commonwealth has prepared mightily for a smooth transition, Medicaid expansion is a major policy shift bringing both opportunities and a lot of work for many Health Department staff and healthcare providers. It is also a fortuitous time to study many aspects of healthcare delivery in Virginia.
A part of that examination responsibility rests on the Joint Commission on Health Care, an appointed commission of members of the House and the Senate who initiate studies in different areas of healthcare in Virginia and decide whether or not to recommend legislation. I am proud to have been a member for the past several terms. An example of the Joint Commission on Health Care’s (JCHC) staff’s work is the study of the efficacy of cannabidiol (CBD) for medical use and how those oils are and should be made available to patients. Since all of the JCHC studies over the years can be found on the Commission’s website, I won’t describe the details of the cannabidiol research. As a result of the study, the JCHC voted last year to initiate legislation in the 2018 session. I was the chief patron of the bill until offered the politically advantageous opportunity to yield that designation to Delegate Ben Cline (R) and ensure that the bill would pass the HOD. I felt ownership of the subject, having been involved in the study that laid the groundwork, but I knew that this bill would help many people suffering from serious diseases who need therapeutic treatment with the oils. So I welcomed Delegate Cline as Chief Patron Not a hard decision to make!
The cannabidiol study is only one example of JCHC studies that have led to healthcare legislation that made a real difference. This year, we are considering several study subjects: the mental and physical side effects of ADHD medication and the likelihood of addiction the medication presents; the effectiveness of the drug disposal program and a recommendation to change participation from voluntary to mandatory; an evaluation of the Medical-Aid-In-Dying statutes that several states have implemented; the quality of health care services in our jails and prisons coupled with the impact of the requirement that Community Services Boards provide mental health services in jails; an evaluation of addiction relapse treatment in Virginia; research on the options for reducing the rising cost of health insurance premiums; if temporary emergency electrical power source installation should be mandated in assisted living facilities, and what are the options for increasing the use of telemental health services in Virginia?
We will discuss this work plan on June 15. If you have any comments or questions about these topics, please email me at [email protected]
The JCHC is one small part of our Commonwealth’s efforts to improve healthcare and its delivery across the state.
The meetings of the JCHC are open to the public. Y’all come!
Delegate Kory represents the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. She may be emailed at [email protected]