For Immediate Release: May 18, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

Governor Northam Vetoes Legislation That Would Undermine Efforts to Ensure Access to Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Virginians

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed Senate Bills 844, 934, 935, and 964, which would put Virginians at risk of being underinsured, result in rapidly increasing Marketplace premiums, and undermine key protections in the Affordable Care Act. Governor Northam remains committed to expanding health care for nearly 400,000 uninsured Virginians, return millions to the state budget, and reduce Marketplace premiums. The Governor’s full veto statements are below.

Senate Bill 844

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 844. This bill would authorize health insurance carriers in the Commonwealth to offer short-term health plans that last up to 364 days, contingent upon the adoption of federal regulations extending the allowable length of short-term health plans.

This legislation would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. Senate Bill 844 would allow insurance carriers and individuals to circumvent the protections in the Affordable Care Act. Short-term plans are stopgap policies that frequently do not cover mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, or maternity benefits. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these skimpy plans, leaving people who have more significant health care needs in the Marketplace. The adverse selection associated with short-term plans, in combination with the elimination of the federal individual mandate, will increase Virginia Marketplace premiums 19.1%, according to the Urban Institute. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage.Senate Bill 844 would undermine efforts to make sure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

 

Senate Bill 934

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 934, which would allow non-profit associations to sell health insurance plans to their members, exempt from state taxation and insurance regulations.

This legislation would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. Senate Bill 934 would allow non-profit associations and their members to circumvent state protections as well as those in the Affordable Care Act. Through this exemption, association plans would not be required to provide comprehensive coverage and may not cover essential benefits like mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, or maternity benefits. Moreover, association plans will be able to discriminate against people by charging them more based on characteristics like their gender and occupation. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these meager plans, leaving people who have more significant health care needs in the Marketplace. The adverse selection associated with these plans would contribute to the increase in Virginia Marketplace premiums. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage.Senate Bill 934 would undermine efforts to ensure that all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

 

Senate Bill 935

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 935. This legislation would replace references to "bona fide association" as used in provisions applicable to health insurance plans with the term "sponsoring association."

Senate Bill 935, in combination with Senate Bill 934, would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. This bill would make technical changes to allow non-profit associations and their members to circumvent state protections as well as those in the Affordable Care Act. Through this exemption, association plans are not required to provide comprehensive coverage and may not cover essential benefits like mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, prescription drugs, or maternity benefits. Moreover, association plans will be able to discriminate against people by charging them more because of characteristics like gender and occupation. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these skimpy plans, leaving people with more significant health care needs in the Marketplace. The adverse selection associated with these plans would contribute to the increase in Virginia Marketplace premiums. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings that insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage.Senate Bill 935 would undermine efforts to make sure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

 

Senate Bill 964

May 18, 2018

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 964, which would direct the Commissioner of Insurance to request federal permission for insurance carriers to offer catastrophic plans to all individuals purchasing coverage through the Marketplace.

This legislation would place consumers at risk of being underinsured and would fragment Virginia’s federal Marketplace risk pool, leading to rapidly increasing premiums. Senate Bill 964 would allow insurance carriers and individuals to circumvent the protections in the Affordable Care Act. Under current law, catastrophic plans are only available for individuals who are younger than 30 years of age and individuals who qualify for a hardship or affordability exemption. Catastrophic plans typically have lower premiums because they require individuals to pay deductibles in excess of $7,000 before the plan pays for health care costs. People with minimal current health care needs are more likely to purchase these threadbare plans. This adverse selection would contribute to the increase in Virginia Marketplace premiums. Virginia is already witnessing unnecessary premium increases in the preliminary rate filings insurance carriers have submitted for 2019, because of federal actions destabilizing the Marketplace.

We are fortunate to have a better opportunity to expand health care to people who need it and make it more affordable for all Virginians. Expanding Medicaid will connect nearly 400,000 people with insurance and return millions to the state budget to support other priorities that make life better for Virginians. Additionally, states that have expanded Medicaid have Marketplace premiums that are an average of 7% lower than states that have not, demonstrating that expansion will benefit far more people than just those who will receive coverage.Senate Bill 964 would undermine efforts to make sure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

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