Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: May 2, 2019
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alena Yarmosky, Alena.Yarmosky@governor.virginia.gov

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

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today vetoed House Bill 1661, House Bill 2443, and Senate Bill 1689, legislation which would undermine larger efforts to ensure access to quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care for all Virginians and to stabilize Virginia’s health insurance marketplace. The Governor’s full veto statements are below.

House Bill 1661

May 2, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 1661. This legislation allows certain agricultural organizations to provide health insurance via association health plans and expands the availability of association health plans beyond what is currently allowed in Virginia.

House Bill 1661 is concerning for several reasons. Association health plans (AHPs) are not required to cover essential health benefits including maternity care and prescription coverage. Additionally, AHPs would be able to set different premium rates based on characteristics like age, gender, job, and preexisting conditions. This bill would undermine current efforts to stabilize the Virginia health insurance marketplace. Virginians who enroll in AHPs may be disproportionately healthy when they enroll, leading to higher premiums for Virginians who do not qualify for an AHP and remain in the marketplace.

Virginia took a positive step to increase the availability of quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care coverage through Medicaid expansion for individuals whose income is lower than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Our responsibility is to now look at solutions such as those proposed by the Market Stability Workgroup in order to improve affordability across the Commonwealth’s health insurance markets. This legislation addressed the concerns a segment of Virginians have regarding health care costs. We look forward to working together holistically to ensure all Virginians have lower health care costs. All Virginians have a right to quality, affordable, and comprehensive coverage. My administration remains committed to this goal. House Bill 1661 would undermine these larger efforts.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

 

House Bill 2443

May 2, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto House Bill 2443. This legislation provides that certain trusts constitute a benefits consortium and are authorized to sell health benefits plans to members of a sponsoring association. The legislation also expands the availability of and the rules regulating association health plans beyond what is currently allowed in Virginia.

House Bill 2443 is concerning for several reasons. Association health plans (AHPs) are not required to cover essential health benefits including maternity care and prescription coverage. Additionally, AHPs would be able to set different premium rates based on characteristics like age, gender, job, and preexisting conditions. This bill would undermine current efforts to stabilize the Virginia health insurance marketplace. Virginians who enroll in AHPs may be disproportionately healthy when they enroll, leading to higher premiums for Virginians who do not qualify for an AHP and remain in the marketplace.

Virginia took a positive step to increase the availability of quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care coverage through Medicaid expansion for individuals whose income is lower than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Our responsibility is to now look at solutions such as those proposed by the Market Stability Workgroup in order to improve affordability across the Commonwealth’s health insurance markets. This legislation addressed the concerns a segment of Virginians have regarding health care costs. We look forward to working together holistically to ensure all Virginians have lower health care costs. All Virginians have a right to quality, affordable, and comprehensive coverage. My administration remains committed to this goal. House Bill 2443 would undermine these larger efforts.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

 

Senate Bill 1689

May 2, 2019

Pursuant to Article V, Section 6, of the Constitution of Virginia, I veto Senate Bill 1689. This legislation provides that certain trusts constitute a benefits consortium and are authorized to sell health benefits plans to members of a sponsoring association. The legislation also expands the availability of and the rules regulating association health plans beyond what is currently allowed in Virginia.

Senate Bill 1689 is concerning for several reasons. Association health plans (AHPs) are not required to cover essential health benefits including maternity care and prescription coverage. Additionally, AHPs would be able to set different premium rates based on characteristics like age, gender, job, and preexisting conditions. This bill would undermine current efforts to stabilize the Virginia health insurance marketplace. Virginians who enroll in AHPs may be disproportionately healthy when they enroll leading to higher premiums for Virginians who do not qualify for an AHP and remain in the marketplace.

Virginia took a positive step to increase the availability of quality, affordable, and comprehensive health care coverage through Medicaid expansion for individuals whose income is lower than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Our responsibility now is to look at solutions such as those proposed by the Market Stability Workgroup in order to improve affordability across the Commonwealth’s health insurance markets. This legislation addressed the concerns a segment of Virginians have regarding health care costs. We look forward to working together holistically to ensure all Virginians’ have lower health care costs and ensure the overall market is held harmless. All Virginians have a right to quality, affordable, and comprehensive coverage. My administration remains committed to this goal. Senate Bill 1689 would undermine these larger efforts.

Accordingly, I veto this bill.

Sincerely,

 

Ralph S. Northam

# # #