By Delegate Rob Bloxom

 

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The 2018 General Assembly session adjourned March 10. Many bills were agreed upon the last week but the most important bill, the budget bill, was not. The current budget runs until July 1, but counties and cities are working on their budgets. The state provides a large portion including support for schools, sheriff departments, public works, etc. This leaves many municipalities in the dark. We hope to reach an agreement soon so that local governments may craft their budgets for the upcoming year. The disagreement this year is not only where to spend the taxes but on the amount there is to spend. The difference between the House and Senate budget is three billion dollars. Six delegates and seven senators were negotiating the budget but the temperature in the room became too heated, and the legislators thought it best for everyone to go home in order to cool down a bit. The heart of the debate is Medicaid expansion. The introduced budget included expansion and the House could not remove it from the budget. Instead, several safeguards were added to keep the program manageable. The Senate removed Medicaid expansion from their budget. Governor Northam has already stated that any budget sent to him without the expansion will be amended to include the expansion, without any safeguards or modifications.The

Governor, as of this week, has called us back for a special session April 11 to continue to work on the budget. There were other bills aimed at controlling health insurance costs. One bill would allow insurance companies to sell a more economical health insurance plan than what is available in the commonwealth today. Another would allow people to form a group in order to purchase group health insurance. My bill to form a catastrophic pool to cover major health expenses, similar to a worker’s compensation pool, was sent to the Health Insurance Reform Commission for further study. I recognize a huge challenge in the cost of health insurance and the rising cost of care. I will continue to work to try to help solve these problems.      Thank you for allowing me to represent you another year in Richmond. Until I return to the capitol next month, you may reach me at my home office in Mappsville at 824-3456 or email me at ​delrbloxom@house.virginia.gov​ if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you.