Henrico County VA
General Assembly

Patient First no longer accepting new Anthem patients


Virginia’s largest provider of primary and urgent health care, Patient First, has stopped accepting new patients insured by Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, citing Anthem’s “reduction in the reimbursement rates paid.”

The change, which took effect Feb. 2, also excludes all Anthem members with HealthKeepers Plus plans, even people who are existing patients at Patient First.

Ian Slinkman, the director of marketing and public relations at Patient First, said in an email, “The costs for delivering care increase year over year. Every one of the other Virginia payors with whom we contract understands this and provides reasonable trend increases that enable us to maintain our high levels of access and service.”

Bill would address reporting of sexual assaults


A state legislator from Northern Virginia urged her colleagues Tuesday to pass a bill requiring that campus sexual assaults be reported promptly to the local commonwealth’s attorney instead of being handled solely by campus and local police. Under House Bill 1343, sponsored by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, D-Fairfax, campus and local law enforcement authorities would have 48 hours after receiving a report of a sexual assault on a college campus to notify the commonwealth’s attorney.

“By getting the commonwealth’s attorney involved, it’ll make sure that the investigation is properly pursued and victims are given the resources that they need,” Filler-Corn said at a press conference on the eve of the start of the General Assembly’s 2015 session.

Bills would regulate license plate readers


Police could retain for only a week the data they collect from license plate readers, under legislation proposed by a pair of Democratic and Republican lawmakers from Northern Virginia.

Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax, and Delegate Rich Anderson, R-Prince William, introduced bills last week to put limits on the collection and retention of LPR data by police departments in Virginia.

Currently, Virginia has no limits. As a result, for example, the city of Alexandria keeps license plate data for up to two years, while the Virginia State Police delete their data within 24 hours, according to Petersen’s office.

Transparency efforts designed to help citizens (and legislators)


Delegate Dickie Bell faces a quandary every Monday. As a member of the House Education committee, he has a weekly meeting at 8:30 a.m. He’s also a member of the House Finance committee, which meets at the same time.

“I’m often forced to miss one committee meeting, depending on whose agenda is more important,” said Bell, R-Staunton.

Sometimes he’ll try to catch some of each hearing, climbing the stairs between the first and ninth floors of the General Assembly building, where the meetings are held.

Governor outlines ‘opportunity’ agenda


In a move he said would boost the state’s economy, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is asking legislators to remove the requirement that Virginia women get an ultrasound before having an abortion and to “create a more inclusive environment for LGBT Virginians and business owners.”

McAuliffe announced his “full equal opportunity agenda” on Monday, calling on the General Assembly to:

· Remove references to “husband and wife” or “man and woman” in Virginia laws about marriage. Such terms would be replaced with the word “spouse” now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state.

Parents seek funding for mental health services


Central Virginia residents packed a legislative committee hearing Wednesday to call for more funding for child mental health services, more help for individuals with intellectual disabilities and tighter regulations of private homes providing day care.

Parents and other citizens voiced those concerns at a joint meeting at Capitol Square of the Senate Finance and House Appropriations committees. It was one of five public hearings held across the state on Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed amendments to the state budget.

McAuliffe sets the stage for General Assembly


Gov. Terry McAuliffe called on Virginia legislators Wednesday to address the problem of sexual assaults on college campuses and to make it easier for some undocumented immigrants to attend public colleges and universities.

McAuliffe laid out those goals in his State of the Commonwealth speech to a joint session of the General Assembly, which kicked off its 2015 session earlier in the day.

McAuliffe, who is beginning his second year as Virginia’s chief executive, wants the assembly over the next six weeks to pass several measures concerning education.

Panel rejects bill to expand hate crimes law


A Senate committee on Wednesday defeated a bill to include sexual orientation and gender identification in the state’s definition of hate crimes.

The Senate Courts of Justice Committee voted 7-6 against Senate Bill 799, which was sponsored by Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington. All six Democrats on the committee supported the measure; all seven Republican committee members opposed it.

SB 799 would have expanded the definition of “hate crime” to include offenses committed against a person because of sexual orientation or gender identification. It would have required law enforcement agencies to report such crimes to State Police.

‘Public service is a privilege,’ House Speaker says

As the Virginia House of Delegates convened Wednesday for the General Assembly’s 2015 session, House Speaker William Howell welcomed newly elected delegates, set out the chamber’s goals and reminded legislators of their position as public servants.

“It is said quite often – public service is a privilege. None of us are entitled to the seats we hold in this body,” said Howell, a Republican from Fredericksburg.

He told lawmakers to live up to the standards expected by their constituents.

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