Category Archives: Blog

Coalition to Protect Patient Choice


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 Virginia: Virginia Consumer Group and Union Comments to Virginia Insurance Commissioner Cunningham 

A number of major consumer groups and unions composed of Consumers Union, Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare, Virginia Organizing, the Virginia Rural Health Association, Consumer Action, the Commonwealth Institute, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog, SEIU Virginia 512, and DC 37 AFSCME, AFL-CIO filed comments to Virginia Insurance Commissioner Jacqueline K. Cunningham regarding the proposed mergers of Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana. The purpose of these comments was to raise concerns about the two mergers and their impact on healthcare in Virginia and to urge that public hearings be held to evaluate these mergers. Here are a number of specific points raised:

  • It is critical for the Virginia State Corporation Commission to hold hearings regarding these mergers. These proceedings are public, allowing third parties and the public to air their concerns.

  • These mergers would substantially reduce competition and create large overlaps in Virginia in a number of different insurance products including commercial, ASO, and Medicare Advantage. A combination of Anthem and Cigna would create an entity with just under 72% share of the Virginia ASO market, and a combination of Aetna and Humana would have 66% of all seniors with a Medicare Advantage plan in Virginia.

  • The mergers would also increase costs for consumers. The merging companies have requested significant premium increases within Virginia, and studies on health insurance mergers have found significant premium increases for consumers post-merger.

  • Individuals and organizations are worried that these acquisitions will further reduce network adequacy. This is already a substantial problem within Virginia.

  • Divestiture is not an effective remedy for restoring competition in this situation. However the Commission has the power to develop its own solutions for a health insurance merger. 

To see the full comments submitted to Commissioner Cunningham please click here.

To see the comments submitted by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association to Commissioner Cunningham, please click here

Voices from the Coverage Gap: Virginians Share Their Stories

Angela Ward shares what it’s like to be a college student in the healthcare coverage gap:

Rolandah McMillan talks about life for the working class Virginian in the coverage gap, when you don’t have employer coverage and don’t make enough to buy coverage on the ACA Marketplace:

Rolandah shares what she’d like to say to her Virginia Delegate and Senator about closing the coverage gap:

Voices from the coverage gap: Mary Richards

Mary Richards lives in the suburbs of Richmond. She shares what it’s like to live in the healthcare coverage gap in Virginia.

Gearing up for 2016 legislative advocacy in Virginia

The 2016 Virginia legislative season is upon us. Committee budget hearings are already in progress across the state, and the opening gavel on the 2016 session falls on Wednesday, January 13.

We’ve got some videos up on our YouTube channel from Del. Manoli Loupassi and legislative advocacy consultant Becky Bowers-Lanier that give you tips on how bills progress through the Assembly, and how to successfully advocate for an issue important to you.

VCV’s focus this year will again be advocating for expanding coverage for all Virginians by supporting Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s call to take the federal funding available to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth. If you’d like to join in the chorus on that advocacy, here’s our “3 Reasons Virginia Should Close the Coverage Gap” talking points tip sheet for you to use in talking to your legislators and fellow citizens:

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To sing out in a loud and tuneful choir, please join us at the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public PolicyDay for All People event on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 from 8am to 3pm. Tickets are $30 for general admission, $15 for students. The agenda for the event, whose theme is “Racism Beyond the Confederate Flag,” includes a trip to the General Assembly, where attendees can speak directly to their legislators about public policy issues including healthcare, economic and criminal justice, immigration, and redistricting. We’ll be providing lunch, and also hear a keynote presentation by the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, who has been named one of the 12 most effective preachers in the English-speaking world by Newsweek magazine. 

Let’s get to work.

Healthcare access for all: Keeping the faith

Last week, on December 8, our parent organization Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP) held their Annual Meeting at the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, just steps from Virginia’s State Capitol. 

The event included awarding the 2015 Beacon of Light Award to Virginia Poverty Law Center for their service to the Commonwealth.


Virginia Sen. John Watkins was named Legislator of the Year by the Center, and attended the Annual Meeting to accept the award.


Michael Cassidy, President of The Commonwealth Institute for Public Policy, gave a keynote address in which he discussed the challenges to the Commonwealth caused by racial inequality. On healthcare, he said, 

Medicaid expansion is a huge opportunity to make progress on health care access. This is an issues where we could cover 400,000 more if we lifted eligibility for our state Medicaid program to cover more low income folks. For example, for a single mom with two kids working as a waitress who makes up to about $27,000 a year. We know having access to affordable, quality, healthcare is essential for healthy families, a health workforce and economic security. We have an opportunity but it’s being rejected. And it’s an issue of racial equity. That’s because racial minorities in this state disproportionately have lower incomes and disproportionately lack health insurance. Racial minorities make up more than half of the uninsured poor in Virginia despite representing only one-third of the population. So they would stand to see outsized progress if we closed the coverage gap.

Click here for a full transcript of Mr. Cassidy’s remarks.

VICPP CEO Rev. Charles Swadley opened the meeting with a call for people of all faiths and beliefs to speak with one voice on behalf of the most vulnerable of Virginians.

A short distance from this spot is the historic location of the signing of the Freedom of Religion, a place that gives evidence that America’s First Freedom should always insure not only a tolerance of all faiths, but an embrace of the destiny of our American values that give light in the darkness to all when at other places and in other times freedom to worship may be denied or worse persecuted because of a difference to our own path of belief and worship of a deity or perhaps to none at all. The Virginia Interfaith Center unites our different paths of faith in the pursuit of values today for public policies that offer care for the most vulnerable in our Commonwealth. Even though it has been several hundreds of years since our founding, we still find the divisions of our society crying out as loudly as ever. The rhetoric of division and the voices that discriminate take many forms, but this Center today speaks urgently and strongly for healing and hope. That is why we are here to thank those voices that have the courage to raise a voice to care for the least.

Click here for a full transcript of Rev. Swadley’s remarks.

Rev. David L. Chapman, Interim Executive Minister of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia, closed the meeting with this prayer.

Almighty God, as we conclude this meeting, thank you for all who have come together for the betterment of our fellow human beings. Breathe on our intentions, our good and righteous intentions and give them life. Give us strength for the work ahead. Keep us as only you can and quite us safely to our homes. It is in Your Holy Name I pray.

VICPP Annual Meeting audience