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Sun Gazette: Legislators See Some Successes, Macro and Micro, in 2013 Session Print

BY SCOTT McCAFFREY

Created:  Monday, March 4, 2013  11:45AM

First, the good news: Members of Arlington delegation to the General Assembly saw some positive results, both individually and collectively, during the 46-day session that wrapped up toward the end of February.
Asked to name a few session highlights, legislators had varied responses. Among things that stood out for them:
State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st): Favola pointed to an agreement worked out with Gov. McDonnell, which could see Virginia agreeing to participate in the expansion of the federal Medicaid program.
“This success would have escaped us if the Senate Democrats had not made Medicaid expansion a priority,” she said. “By being united, we are able to leverage our votes on transportation to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th): Ebbin shared Favola’s opinion.
“In my view, the biggest achievement . . . was that provisions were agreed to in the state budget to allow for Medicaid expansion. Estimates indicate that 400,000 Virginians would be eligible for care under the expansion, and that 30,000 good health-care jobs would be created, meaning we’ll be saving lives and creating jobs simultaneously when this expansion moves forward.”
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd): Howell, who has been in the legislature longer than any other member of the Arlington delegation, said the agreement between the two political parties and two houses on revising transportation funding was her highlight of 2013.
“The biggest achievement of the session was passing a transportation plan after 15 frustrating years of effort,” she said.
Del. Bob Brink (D-48th): Brink, the senior member of the Arlington contingent to the House of Delegates, pointed to Medicaid expansion, but also to revisions in how the state government addresses the needs of severely disabled residents of training centers.
“Their families are concerned about whether they would receive the same level of attention – particularly medical care – that they need in a non-institutional setting,” Brink said.
Language in a bill Brink patroned on the subject “requires the state to work with residents’ families and with local Community Services Boards to make sure that medical, rehabilitative and other special needs can be met by community providers.”
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th): Hope returned to the Medicaid expansion effort.
“Without a doubt, the most historically significant vote I’ve ever taken occurred when we put into the budget language to expand Medicaid,” he said. “It will prove to be significant not just because of the additional lives that will be covered, but this decision will transform our Medicaid program into one that improves quality, produces better patient outcomes and lowers costs.”
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th): Lopez pointed to legislation he patroned in support of the affordable-housing initiatives.
“The lack of affordable housing in our area has been a significant concern for years,” he said. “This bill will create stability for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, as well as Virginians hoping to apply for affordable housing assistance and organizations seeking to address homelessness.”
“I was also able to secure an additional $2 million this year for the trust fund in the budget – this is on top of the $7 million we secured last year,” Lopez said.
Of course, not everything was sunshine and lollipops during the General Assembly session. Legislators also discussed the greatest disappointments of the session – that is, however, a story for another time.

 

First, the good news: Members of Arlington delegation to the General Assembly saw some positive results, both individually and collectively, during the 46-day session that wrapped up toward the end of February.
Asked to name a few session highlights, legislators had varied responses. Among things that stood out for them:
State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st): Favola pointed to an agreement worked out with Gov. McDonnell, which could see Virginia agreeing to participate in the expansion of the federal Medicaid program.
“This success would have escaped us if the Senate Democrats had not made Medicaid expansion a priority,” she said. “By being united, we are able to leverage our votes on transportation to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30th): Ebbin shared Favola’s opinion.
“In my view, the biggest achievement . . . was that provisions were agreed to in the state budget to allow for Medicaid expansion. Estimates indicate that 400,000 Virginians would be eligible for care under the expansion, and that 30,000 good health-care jobs would be created, meaning we’ll be saving lives and creating jobs simultaneously when this expansion moves forward.”
State Sen. Janet Howell (D-32nd): Howell, who has been in the legislature longer than any other member of the Arlington delegation, said the agreement between the two political parties and two houses on revising transportation funding was her highlight of 2013.
“The biggest achievement of the session was passing a transportation plan after 15 frustrating years of effort,” she said.
Del. Bob Brink (D-48th): Brink, the senior member of the Arlington contingent to the House of Delegates, pointed to Medicaid expansion, but also to revisions in how the state government addresses the needs of severely disabled residents of training centers.
“Their families are concerned about whether they would receive the same level of attention – particularly medical care – that they need in a non-institutional setting,” Brink said.
Language in a bill Brink patroned on the subject “requires the state to work with residents’ families and with local Community Services Boards to make sure that medical, rehabilitative and other special needs can be met by community providers.”
Del. Patrick Hope (D-47th): Hope returned to the Medicaid expansion effort.
“Without a doubt, the most historically significant vote I’ve ever taken occurred when we put into the budget language to expand Medicaid,” he said. “It will prove to be significant not just because of the additional lives that will be covered, but this decision will transform our Medicaid program into one that improves quality, produces better patient outcomes and lowers costs.”
Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49th): Lopez pointed to legislation he patroned in support of the affordable-housing initiatives.
“The lack of affordable housing in our area has been a significant concern for years,” he said. “This bill will create stability for the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, as well as Virginians hoping to apply for affordable housing assistance and organizations seeking to address homelessness.”
“I was also able to secure an additional $2 million this year for the trust fund in the budget – this is on top of the $7 million we secured last year,” Lopez said.
Of course, not everything was sunshine and lollipops during the General Assembly session. Legislators also discussed the greatest disappointments of the session – that is, however, a story for another time.

 



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