THE Garrett Gazette: Week 5 Update from Richmond

Dear Friends,

We are approaching the halfway point of the General Assembly Session, also known as "Crossover." Crossover is the day when each chamber must finish work on its own legislation and send it over to the other body. This year, Crossover is on Tuesday, February 16, which means that the House must complete all of its work on House bills before the end of that day. This week was marked by lengthy floor sessions and committees working overtime to ensure that they clear their dockets.

Next weekend, I'll be holding a Mid-Session Update Breakfast where my colleagues from Central Virginia and I will visit with you- our friends and neighbors- as we talk about the first half of the 2016 General Assembly Session. Charley's Restaurant (707 Graves Mill Road, Lynchburg) is providing an optional hot breakfast bar for $10. Please take a moment to RSVP at this link: http://www.tscottgarrett.com/sign-up/. I hope to see you on Saturday, February 20, at 8AM!

As always, I am grateful for your confidence and look forward to participating in a process that produces good public policy that benefits our district and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

All The Best,

 

Delegate Scott Garrett M.D.


Healthcare Regulations

Ensuring that all Virginians have access to quality and affordable healthcare is another top priority for many of us this Session. Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act continues to cost Virginians by driving up insurance rates and healthcare costs. Instead of expanding an expensive, broken entitlement program, Republicans in the House of Delegates are advocating for real health care reforms to increase access and keep healthcare costs under control.

The House of Delegates has already passed legislation to increase access to primary care doctors, expand access to mobile health clinics, and combat prescription drug fraud in Virginia.

In addition, we have focused our efforts to reform the Certificate of Public Need (COPN) process. Virginia's COPN program, first implemented 43 years ago in an attempt to optimize healthcare at the lowest cost to the state, has evolved to a burdensome, bureaucratic process that is widely seen as needing reform.

In order for certain types of medical facilities to be built, the Commonwealth has utilized the COPN program to review, analyze, and determine what services and facilities are authorized. Research has shown that COPN laws restrict access to medical services and hospital beds, rather than increasing access.

For years, the General Assembly has evaluated legislative proposals to reform the COPN program. However, these efforts have fallen short, in large part due to extensive lobbying efforts on behalf of those who benefit economically from being able to control the provision of health care services in their community.

I have been involved for some time now with these discussions, meeting with a number of stakeholders. As a doctor, I am familiar with the program and understand the complexity of the issue. The COPN process is extremely complicated and it would certainly be easier to support the status quo. The status quo, however, is not in the best interest of the citizens I have been sent to Richmond to represent.

Unfortunately, this week there has been a lot of misinformation and fear tactics used to scare citizens in our area. I certainly understand the concerns of our local hospitals, but I am deeply disappointed in the strategy that has been used by the Hospital Association's public relations team. The misleading information contained in their TV ads, radio ads, and automated phone calls was irresponsible.

Those of us who support COPN reform have the goal of promoting comprehensive health planning, promoting access to the highest quality of care at the lowest cost, and providing an orderly procedure for the construction/modification of medical care facilities. We are looking at this series of reforms not to hurt our local hospitals, but to help drive down already skyrocketing costs to our patients.

The legislation that would reform COPN has passed out of a committee I serve on and should be up for a final vote early next week. I intend to support this legislation because I believe we should be increasing access and lowering costs, and not the other way around.


AGREEMENT TO RESTORE & EXPAND CONCEALED CARRY RECIPROCITY

A few weeks ago, I told you about an agreement that was reached between the General Assembly Republicans and the Governor regarding Attorney General Herring's actions on concealed carry reciprocity with other states.

On Wednesday, the House passed the legislative proposals that make up this bipartisan agreement. In case you missed it, the agreement restores and expands concealed carry reciprocity, requires State Police to be available for voluntary background checks at gun shows, and prohibits individuals under permanent domestic violence protective orders from possessing a firearm, as is federal law today. The agreement has the support of both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Virginia Citizen's Defense League (VCDL).

I know that many gun owners and concealed carry permit holders in our community and across Virginia were concerned about the Attorney General's actions. This is why the House of Delegates made restoration of reciprocity a top priority. 


DISTRICT VISITORS

I was happy to see many friendly faces in Richmond this week! Here are a few names of people who stopped by to visit:

  • Dr. Steve Smith and the Central Virginia Governor's School students (Lynchburg)
  • Bedford County Public Schools (pictured above): Superintendent Doug Schouch, School Board Members Gary Hostutler and Julie Bennington
  • Campbell County Sheriff Hutcherson and Appomattox County Sheriff Letterman

Paid and Authorized by Friends of Scott Garrett