2020 General Assembly Wrap-Up

Last weekend, the Virginia General Assembly wrapped up its work on legislation for the 2020 session. Legislators will convene later this week for a final budget session, and again in April for the Governor’s veto session. 

We are happy to report that several of VBCF’s priority bills were passed this session!  The list includes:

Ending “surprise” medical billing

“When an individual needs medical care, that person needs to feel confident they can access that care without going bankrupt. This has been a long time coming,” 

Senator Barbara Favola, D-Arlington, sponsor of the Senate bill (SB 172) on surprise billing. 

Too many Virginians receive surprise medical bills for out of network charges that they did not know about and therefore could not avoid. A compromise bill was passed late last week that takes patients out of the middle of these billing issues between health insurance plans and hospitals/doctors. Under the new law, patients who receive out-of-network care at a hospital covered by their plan can only be charged the in-network rate required by their plan (plus their copay or deductible).  The law applies to both emergency services and non-emergency, out of network services, which was an important inclusion since it means that patients receiving procedures related to cancer, such as mastectomies, will be covered. This is wonderful news! Click here for more details about the new law. 

Limitations on short-term, limited-duration health care plansHB 1037/ SB 404

A compromise bill was passed which will limit the sale of short-term, limited-duration health care plans (STLDP) to 6-months in duration.  STLDPs are not required to adhere to a vast range of important patient protections. Among other things, they can refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions and choose not to cover essential health care services, including cancer screenings. While STLDPs can serve as a stop-gap measure for some consumers, they are not a great choice for most and VBCF was glad to see this bill pass. 

Nondiscrimination in health insurance coverage for transgender individuals. (HB 1429)

Under this new law, transgender individuals will have guaranteed access to all health care services they need, including breast cancer screening and treatment, regardless if those services are ordinarily or exclusively available to covered individuals of one gender. 

Unfortunately, a few bills VBCF supported were left on the table this time around:

Paid Sick Leave (SB 481)

VBCF is disappointed that the Senate failed to pass legislation that would have created a paid sick day standard in Virginia. The Senate let the bill die (or “passed by”) when lawmakers opposed the bill citing concerns that it did not include an exemption for part-time workers. Approximately 1.2 million workers in Virginia have no paid sick days or paid time off. VBCF believes workers should not have to choose between getting paid or taking the time off to get needed medical care, including treatment for breast cancer.  

Expanded coverage for mammograms (HB 579)   

This bill was passed over until the 2021 General Assembly Session. The bill aimed to provide additional coverage for screening mammograms for individuals with a family history of breast cancer: coverage for annual mammograms from age 30 through 49; biannual mammograms starting at age 50; and annual mammograms starting before age 30 if the covered individual’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at an age earlier than 40.  VBCF believes individuals should have access to screening mammographies and other early detection tools when needed, based on family history and/or their doctor’s recommendation and we will work on this issue for next year.

We appreciate all who helped advocate for VBCF’s priority bills this session.  Thank you to our dedicated volunteer advocates who attended State Breast Cancer Advocacy Day and/or took the time to contact their legislators about these important issues. 

If you would like to get more involved with VBCF’s advocacy work, contact Kirsta Millar, Policy and Fund Development Manager: kirsta@vbcf.org.  You can also sign up to receive VBCF’s Advocacy Action Alerts to keep up to date with the latest breast cancer legislation at both the state and national levels.


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