Where health care stands at the Virginia primaries

As Virginia gears up for its primary elections on June 8, several candidates have health care reform lined up in their agendas. Ballots for attorney general, governor, and lieutenant governor consist fully of Democrat candidates, while district seats in the House of Delegates are up for contest across both parties.


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The gubernatorial election has six candidates, including current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who cast the tie-breaking vote to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth in 2018. At the 2021 Virginia State of Reform Health Policy Conference, he said the pandemic underscored the need to expand. affordable health care.

“[COVID-19] has really exposed so many of the inequalities, the inefficiencies in our society. So much of the work we have to do to make sure no one falls through the cracks.” 

Also running for governor is Sen. Jennifer McClellan, who plans to invest $30 million in maternal care. She released an extensive plan to rebuild equitable health care in the Commonwealth, including extending health care coverage to 88,000 uninsured children and facilitating new Virginia Safe Communities grants to support LGBT+ youth, and investing in behavioral health programs. She wrote: 

“It’s time to finally prioritize mental health in the governor’s agenda. When I’m governor, Virginia will lead the nation through reforming behavioral health access and quality by providing needs-based funding to localities, a new focus on behavioral health equity, investing in and strengthening our community service boards and private providers, increasing resources for crisis intervention, and getting more behavioral health professionals in our schools by lifting the cap on state funding for these and other support personnel.”

Lieutenant governor candidate Del. Hala Ayala would be the first woman of color in statewide office, as well as the first woman to serve as Lieutenant governor. Her health care goals include expanding Medicaid and increasing telehealth access in rural communities. She has racked up a number of endorsements, including Gov. Ralph Northam, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring.

Also running for Lt. Governor is Mark Levine, who would be the first openly gay person in the country to serve in that positon. In the 2021 regular session, Levine attempted to pass HB188, which would require hospitals and practitioners to provide patients with estimates of up-front costs, although the bill did not end up passing.

Challenging incumbent Mark Herring for attorney general is Del. Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones – Herring’s first challenger since he assumed office in 2013. In a conversation with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association in late April, Jones said: 

“I do think that the Attorney General has an incredible role to play in our health care system here in Virginia, not only holding folks accountable, but making sure that we are going to meet people where they are to help them out when they have challenges with their health care and health care system.”

To see a full list of candidates and ballot information, visit the Virginia Dept. of Elections.