5 Things Virginia: Health policy roundup, Topical Agenda, Q&A w/Dr. Christina Stasiuk

We are getting closer to our 2021 Virginia State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up late next month. With more than 60 speakers curated for you across our Topical Agenda, you’ll find some of the smartest, most thoughtful and well connected Virginians on the agenda for this virtual event.

On perhaps a more depressing note (for some of you at least), I want to apologize for the thrashing my Gonzaga Bulldogs are going to apply to the University of Virginia in the upcoming NCAA Men’s College Basketball tournament (and perhaps Norfolk State, depending on their game Thursday against Appalachian State). I’m pulling for the underdog VCU Women’s BB team against Indiana. But, if they pull off that upset, I’m sorry to say the Women’s team will run into Gonzaga in the second round. #theslipperstillfits





With help from Emily Boerger

1. Cigna’s Dr. Stasiuk discusses building trust

Dr. Christina Stasiuk, Senior Medical Director at Cigna, is an expert on health disparities and addressing gaps in care. In this Q&A, she discusses systemic racism’s impact on health outcomes, initiatives to address disparities, and building trust in minority communities.

“Trust is not a switch, it’s a relationship,” says Stasiuk. No matter how sound the medical science is, or how good her intentions are as a provider, she says individuals need to hear recommendations from a trusted source in order to act on them. Stasiuk says improving workforce diversity, addressing social determinants of health, and raising awareness are important steps to address disparities.


2. ICYMI: Topical Agenda now available

In case you missed it, we recently released the Topical Agenda for the 2021 Virginia State of Reform Health Policy Conference coming up on April 29th! It’s a set of topics pulled together from scores of hours of conversations with our Convening Panel, key stakeholders, and sponsors. We’ll be exploring politics and policy in health care, discussing a community-based approach to health, and diving deep into COVID’s impact on our mental health, health equity, and the workforce.

You can view the Topical Agenda here for a sense of the conversations we have teed up, and if you have suggestions for speakers let us know! If you haven’t already registered, we’d be honored to have you join us!


3. Northam action on health policy

Following the conclusion of the legislative session, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday he had signed 80 new pieces of legislation into law. Among the list of newly-signed bills is HB 1737, which reduces the number of clinical experience years required before a nurse practitioner may practice without a practice agreement; HB 1848, which adds discrimination on the basis of disability as an unlawful discriminatory practice under the Virginia Human Rights Act; and HB 1896/SB 1276, which repeals a ban on abortion coverage for plans offered through the state exchange.

The General Assembly this year also passed a bill establishing the Commonwealth Health Reinsurance Program. The bill was sent to Northam on Monday, but he has yet to sign off on it. The Governor has until March 31 to take action on legislation passed this session. The Assembly will reconvene April 7 for a veto session.


4. Legislation impacting DMAS

During a meeting last week, DMAS Acting Deputy Director, Administration Sarah Hatton outlined 5 pieces of recently-passed legislation that will directly impact the Department. One piece of legislation, SB 1307, directs DMAS to expand Medicaid coverage of school health services beyond special education services already provided. Two other bills, HB 1987/SB 1338, mandates Medicaid coverage of remote patient monitoring through telehealth.

Hatton also discussed SB 1102, which requires DMAS to establish an annual training and orientation program for personal care aides who provide Medicaid self-directed services, and HB 2124, which would allow all individuals to receive COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccinations regardless of their immigration status.


5. Worth a read: Kitzhaber on the national health policy agenda

Hon. John Kitzhaber is the former governor of Oregon and continues to be one of the most important thinkers on state health reform in the country. He recently wrote a three-part series for State of Reform offering his take on universal coverage, equity, value, and moving the national health policy agenda forward.

In Part 1, Kitzhaber reflects on the recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. In Part 2 and Part 3, he dives into the details of moving health policy forward administratively through 1115 and 1332 waivers. His ideas focus on moving the ACA individual market from fee-for-service to capitation and using the restructured individual market as a public option.