That’s a Wrap! 2021 VA General Assembly Session Ends

The 2021 Virginia General Assembly session was extended by the Governor and concluded this past weekend. Thank you to all who took action on VBCF’s priority legislation during this unusual session! Here is a brief summary of where we landed:

Paid Family and Medical Leave

Delegate Hala Ayala’s bill (HB 2016) establishing a paid family and medical leave insurance program in Virginia was ultimately left in the House Appropriations Committee. However, the Committee recommended that an actuarial study be conducted to determine the cost of implementing such a program. Funding for this study was included in the budget and passed. This is good news!

As Delegate Ayala explained to VBCF’s Executive Director, Katy Sawyer, “Thank you so much for your support of the bill, and while it didn’t pass this year, I am hopeful that the actuarial study will put it in a better position to pass in future sessions.” 

Excerpt from VBCF’s written testimony submitted to the House Labor & Commerce Committee:

“I have no idea how someone going through breast cancer could function without the ability to take paid time off from work. Managing everything in your life during treatment is a precarious balancing act. The mental stress can be overwhelming. If I were faced with the additional stress of possibly losing my job or not getting paid, I’m not sure how I would have coped. All Virginians should be able to take the time off from their job when facing a disease like breast cancer or other serious illness and not have to worry about their financial situation.”

Renu Brennan, VBCF Board Member

VBCF will continue to work on this issue and educate our legislators. If you have an experience with paid medical leave (or lack of) during your breast cancer journey, please consider sharing your story with us. Contact:

Paid Sick Days

Delegate Guzman’s original bill (HB 2137) would have provided sick days for all essential workers in Virginia. The final version of the bill that passed is more narrow in scope, covering home health care workers only. But, this is an important first step to eventually set a standard for paid sick days in Virginia. As passed, this legislation provides 30,000 home health care workers with up to five paid sick days a year.

Successful Opposition to Association Health Plans

VBCF is a member of the Healthy Market Virginia Coalition. This session, the Coalition was successful in defeating two bills that would have allowed the establishment of Association Health Plans (AHP) in the Commonwealth. AHPs threaten access to treatment for breast cancer patients and survivors by unfairly making health coverage more expensive and discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions. These plans can charge higher premiums based on your age, where you live and where you work. AHPs also do not have to offer critical patient protections required by the Affordable Care Act, such as prescription drug coverage and emergency care.

Next Up: National Breast Cancer Lobby Day, May 18, 2021. More details to come.

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Caption: This painting by Parks P. Duffey, III commemorates VBCF’s founding and depicts several of VBCF’s early events at Virginia’s State Capitol.

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