HAV 2020 Reconvened Update: COVID-19 and Budget Amendments

There have been many changes in Virginia’s policy and budget landscape since the end of legislative session due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the anticipated economic impact of the pandemic, Governor Northam has decided to “unallot” (not allowing to be spent) the vast majority of optional budget items previously approved by the General Assembly. We anticipate the General Assembly to agree with the governor’s amendments during Reconvened Session on April 22.

This means that unless the legislature and governor agree at a later date (such as during an expected special session in June) to add the money back, many long-needed investments will be removed. We are currently thinking through how best to advocate for our priorities in the lead up to the anticipated special session.

There was also an opportunity for the governor to amend or veto legislation passed by the General Assembly. This was important for our push for stronger language in Short Term Limited Duration (STLD) health plan legislation, as well as our opposition to Association Health Plan (AHP) and Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) bills.

Here is an update of what all this means for HAV priority policies and legislation:

Unchanged:

  • Elimination of Work Reporting Requirement Proposal for Medicaid
  • Virginia’s Transition to a State-Based Exchange
  • Limitations on Short-Term Limited-Duration (STLD) Health Plans as passed by the General Assembly
    • STLD plans will now be limited to terms of 3 months, with only one renewal term allowed in any 12 month period, for a total of potentially 6 months of STLD plan coverage.
    • The law will take effect July 1, 2021.
    • We did not get additional language added via a Governor’s amendment but this is still a great win for Virginia consumers and is now law!
  • Paid Family and Medical Leave Study

Unalloted:

  • Funding for the elimination of “40 Quarter Rule” for Medicaid
  • Funding for Medicaid adult dental benefits
  • Extending postpartum coverage to 12 months
  • Medicaid reimbursement for a voluntary home visiting program

Governor Amendment:

  • On bills to loosen regulations on who can offer certain types of Association Health plans (Multiple Employer Welfare Agreements expansion in SB 861, and AHP expansion in SB 235/HB 795), the governor effectively asked the General Assembly to revisit these bills next year.
    • All three bills (SB 861, SB235 and HB 795) have an identical amendment: “the provisions of this act shall not become effective unless reenacted by the 2021 Session of the General Assembly”.
    • We WANT these amendments to pass in both chambers, on all three bills, to let us fight another battle next year and give us more time to educate lawmakers on the negative implications these bills would have on Virginia’s health coverage market.