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The Psychiatric Society of Virginia is a district branch of the American Psychiatric Association, with over 500 member psychiatrists. PSV focuses its efforts on advocacy of mental health issues, the advancement of psychiatry, and service to the community.

2015 Retirements and Elections Mean Big Changes for Virginia General Assembly and Opportunities for Engagement

Proposed Budget for 2016 – 2018

Governor Terry McAuliffe introduced his proposed biennium budget for 2016-2018. This is the only budget that the Governor gets to write from scratch and is commonly referred to as his “legacy budget.”  The two-year budget totals $109 billion, which is an increase from the current budget at $97 million. It includes several new spending initiatives, as well as additional funding for many of the Governor’s top priorities.

Not surprisingly and despite strong opposition from House and Senate Republicans, the Governor once again included Medicaid expansion. The Republicans have already made it very clear that this will be removed from the budget during session and will not be in the final budget. A provider tax for hospitals is included and is intended to help fund Medicaid expansion.

Other highlights include a $2.4 billion bond package that includes funding for economic development, higher education, juvenile justice reform and state parks. The Governor also focuses greatly on education, with almost $1 billion going toward K-12 and higher education. Despite significant spending increases, he was also able to make cuts to personal and corporate taxes. The Governor also included a two percent raise for state employees in the second year of the budget.

The legislature will now have the opportunity to amend the budget during the 2016 legislative session. The House and Senate will each develop their own version of the budget and then work toward a compromise budget to send back to the Governor. This is merely the starting point and the final budget will likely look much different.

James A Pickral Jr.

PSV Lobbyist

2015 General Assembly Elections
Why They Matter:

To say that Governor McAuliffe’s legacy rests upon the outcome of the 2015 election cycle would not be overstating the fact.  With a House of Delegates dominated by republicans, the Governor needs a chamber that can help advance his administration’s policy priorities.  As the Senate rested with republicans in control 21 to 19 prior to November 3rd, all eyes are on a handful of Senate seats.  Democrats only need to pick up one seat to take control from the republicans.  With a 20-20 split, Lt. Governor Northam (a democrat) casts any tie-breaking votes- effectively giving democrats control of the Senate. This would allow democrats to reorganize the Senate and take control of the committees.  A democratically-controlled Senate would give the Governor some much needed muscle in the legislature.

2016 is a budget year in the Commonwealth. If Medicaid expansion were to happen, it has to be through the budget. A tied Senate (the Lt. Governor can’t vote on the budget) or a clear democratic majority would make Medicaid expansion at least viable.  This is also the only budget that the Governor crafts and then nurtures through the legislature. As such, it is sure to contain spending and policy priorities dear to the Governor.

Lead up to the election:
As stated above, the real prize of this cycle is control of the Senate.  There are three Senate Districts in play.  Two are open seats where long serving incumbents have retired.  The first is Senate District 10, which includes all of Powhatan County and parts of Richmond City and Chesterfield County. This seat was formerly held by John Watkins, a republican.  SD 10 is ground zero for the democrats to pick up the seat that would bring them to parity.  Although Watkins held this seat for over a decade, it has trended democratic in almost every other race both State and Federal.

Senate District 29 was previously held by Chuck Colgan (D). This district includes all of Manassas City, Manassas Park City and parts of Prince William County. Though this seat has also trended democratic for a long time, republicans have high hopes of taking it back.  The republican candidate is well known, a former Mayor, and from a prominent political family.  Senator Colgan refrained from endorsing the democratic candidate, with his family actually endorsing the republican.  These factors have made what should be a safe seat a toss-up.

Roanoke has trended democratic for years.  Senator John Edwards (D) should have been safe in his incumbency.  However, the Edwards campaign got off to a slow start and the republican challenger is a high profile physician and local philanthropist.  This has made the race much tighter than it should be.  Though it is a much harder task for republicans to take this seat, it is causing a great deal of worry for democrats.

The Races:
Below were some of the more interesting and competitive races leading up to Election Day.  An asterisk denotes the incumbent. The winner is in italics.


Senate District 6
Lynwood Lewis (D)*: 59.33%
Richard Ottinger (R):  40.28%

Senate District 7
Gary McCollum (D): 45.26 %
Frank Wagner (R)*:   53.57%

Senate District 10
Dan Gecker (D):         46.89%
Glenn Sturtevant (R): 49.57%

Senate District 21
John Edwards (D)*: 50.88%
Nancy Dye (R):        42.44%

Senate District 29
Jeremy McPike (D):  53.57%
Hal Parrish (R):         46.11%

Senate District 39
George Barker (D)*: 53.62%
Joe Murray (R):         45.94%

House of Delegates

House District 32
Elizabeth Miller (D): 47.86%
Tag Greason (R)*:     51.90%

House District 86
Jennifer Boysko (D): 54.37%
Danny Vargas (R):    40.27%

House District 93
Monty Mason (D)*: 54.61%
Lara Overy (R):       45.09%

House District 94
Shelly Simonds (D): 42.14%
David Yancy (R)*:    57.15%

The Results:
At the end of the night it appears that republicans have successfully held the Senate 21-19.  Republican Glen Sturtevant defeated Democrat Dan Gecker in SD 10. This loss hamstrings the Governor for the remainder of his term and will make it almost impossible for him to move his priority policy issues forward.  Democrats did pick up a seat in the House of Delegates, which now sits at 66 (R)-34 (D), though that does very little to change the balance of power in that chamber.

Here are a couple of news articles that recap the election:

Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Washington Post:

American Psychiatric Association Receives Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative Award

Arlington, Va., Sept. 29, 2015 – The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is one of 39 health care collaborative networks selected to participate in the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, announced today by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. APA will receive up to $2.9 million over four years to train a network of practicing psychiatrists throughout the United States in the clinical and leadership skills needed to support primary care practices that are implementing integrated behavioral health programs.

“Supporting doctors and other health care professionals change the way they work is critical to improving quality and spending our health care dollars more wisely,” said Secretary Burwell. “These awards will give patients more of the information they need to make informed decisions about their care and give clinicians access to information and support to improve care coordination and quality outcomes.”

As a Support and Alignment Network, APA will train 3,500 psychiatrists to expand their quality improvement capacity, learn from one another, and achieve common goals of improved care, better health and reduced cost. The network will provide leadership training and teach clinical skills related to evidence-based integrated care consultation. These trainings will help participating clinicians meet the initiative’s phases of transformation and associated milestones, clinical and operational results.

“Research shows that integrating behavioral health care into primary care settings improves patient outcomes and reduces health care spending,” said APA President Renee Binder, MD. “This grant will allow APA to expand the number of psychiatrists who are trained to provide evidence-based integrated mental health care to people throughout the United States.”

These awards are part of a comprehensive strategy advanced by the Affordable Care Act that enables new levels of coordination, continuity, and integration of care, while transitioning volume-driven systems to value-based, patient-centered, health care services. It builds upon successful models and programs such as the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Organization Program, Partnership for Patients with Hospital Engagement Networks, and Accountable Care Organizations.

For more information on the Transforming Clinical Practice Initiative, please visit:

The American Psychiatric Association is a national medical specialty society whose more than 36,000 physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses, including substance use disorders. Visit the APA at

The New York State Psychiatric Association won a significant victory in its legal battle against UnitedHealthcare after an appeals court ruled that the association has standing to represent its members and their patients in the class-action lawsuit. The suit is expected to help medical associations in similar cases.

Click here for the full story.

VIRGINIA Legislative Update

In 2009, the Virginia General Assembly made instrumental modifications to the Health Care Decisions Act (HCDA).  These changes were recommendations made by the Virginia Supreme Court’s Commission on Mental Health Law Reform.  These recommendations included alterations to Virginia’s Advance Directive.  Individuals can 1) write out their instructions and preferences for treatment and 2) choose someone to make treatment decisions for them.  In addition, Advance Directives can also contain information about how to manage, recover and prevent crises.  The PSV encourages providers to inform families and patients to utilize this tool to assist those with serious mental illness.

For the Advanced Directive Form click here.

Employment Opportunities

For a complete up to date list click here.

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