Democrats prioritize health care ahead of Virginia general election

Following the Democratic primary election last week, the winning candidates will face off against the Republican nominees at the November 2 general elections. When it comes to health care, a 2020 poll indicated that 80 percent of Virginians thought a candidate’s stance on health care was extremely or very important in influencing their vote. Each of the Democratic nominees have identified key health care issues they plan to address if elected. 

 

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Former Governor Terry R. McAuliffe swept the gubernatorial primary race with over 60 percent of the vote, beating four other candidates. McAuliffe’s health care priorities included  implementing a state reinsurance program (HB 2332 was signed by Gov. Northam in March) and expanding home visit services to lower maternal mortality rates for Black women. McAuliffe supported Medicaid expansion throughout his previous term through 2018, incorporating funding into his budget each year. The Commonwealth implemented Medicaid expansion in 2019, providing over 500,000 Virginians with access to affordable health care.

McAuliffe will face Libertarian Princess Blanding and Republican Glenn Youngkin in the general election. Youngkin’s campaign platform focuses on strengthening the Commonwealth’s workforce and creating jobs, but lacks concrete health care goals. Youngkin and other Republican nominees had previously called on Gov. Northam to rescind his state of emergency declaration to align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Del. Hala Ayala won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Either she or her Republican opponent, former Del. Winsome Sears, will be the first woman of color elected to the position. Del. Ayala tweeted on June 9 about the diverse primary candidate pool: 

“A lot of history was made last night. Never in the history of the Commonwealth have we had two Black women running for Governor and two women running for Lt. Gov. Just a few years ago, that would have been unthinkable. Yesterday’s win is not only for me, but for them.”

As part of her campaign platform, Del. Ayala released a comprehensive health plan, promising a state reinsurance plan, decreasing maternal and fetal mortality disparities, and building on behavioral health resources. 

Sears’ listed her pro-life stance at the top of her campaign issues. She also wants to keep health care coverage affordable by increasing competition across state lines, and ensuring providers receive proper compensation for telehealth services. She told the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association last month: 

“I’ve seen there’s something afoot to reduce the payment, the compensation to doctors when the teledoc resources are used, and I’m not sure that’s the right way to go about having health insurance more affordable.” 

Incumbent Democrat Mark Herring will face Del. Jason Miyares for the office of attorney general. One of Herring’s top priorities is addressing the state’s opioid crisis, focusing on education and prevention, alongside “enforcement against dealers and traffickers who profit off addiction,” according to his campaign site. 

Herring previously sent a letter applauding the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for proposing a rule to undo the Trump-Pence Administration’s changes to Title X, a program providing accessible health care to underserved communities.

Del. Miyares, the first Cuban-American elected to the Virginia General Assembly, did not list health care under his list of priority issues, which include supporting law enforcement and border security. However, he said if he is elected as attorney general, he would focus on patient empowerment and freedom of choice while navigating state health services and leading the Medicaid fraud control unit

For more information about the candidates, visit the Virginia Dept. of Elections.