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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.

2016 End of Session Report

Psychiatric Society of Virginia

The 2016 Virginia General Assembly adjourned a day early this year. Sine Die was on Friday, March 11 and the legislators returned home after passing over 1,700 bills and sending a budget to Governor McAuliffe. It was a successful session, but certainly had its share of controversial issues. Legislation regarding the Certificate of Public Need Program was a hot topic this year, as well as the appointment of a judge to the Virginia Supreme Court. While these issues brought out partisan politics, we also saw the parties working collaboratively to advance good policy measures for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe and Republican leadership were able to work together to pass historic, compromise legislation regarding firearms. The Virginia General Assembly continues to be an example for the rest of the nation on how to govern effectively, despite political differences.

Below are bills of specific interest from the 2016 session:

HB 362 (Davis) Accident and sickness insurance; step therapy protocols, disclosure of information. Requires health insurers that limit coverage for prescription drugs through the use of a step therapy protocol to have in place a process for a prescribing provider to request an override of the protocol for a patient.

  • Continued until 2017 in the House of Delegates.

SB 331 ( DeSteph) Accident and sickness insurance; step therapy for psychiatric medications. Prohibits a health insurer or other carrier from using step therapy in a manner that results in a denial of or delay in coverage for any psychiatric medication under a health insurance policy or plan.

  • Failed to pass from the Commerce and Labor committee with a letter asking that the Bureau of Insurance look at this issue.

SB 332 (DeSteph) Accident and sickness insurance; step therapy protocols. Requires health benefit plans that restrict the use of any prescription drug through the use of a step therapy protocol to have in place a clear, convenient, and expeditious process for a prescribing medical provider to request an override of such restrictions for a patient.

  • Failed to pass from the Commerce and Labor committee with a letter asking that the Bureau of Insurance look at this issue.

HB 811 (Bell): Involuntary admission procedures; notification to family member about proceedings. After learning the time and location of a commitment hearing, the CSB must notify the personal representative of the person who is the subject of the hearing and their family member.

  •  The judge must consider any testimony or evidence presented by the personal representative or family member.
  •  This bill passed in the House of Delegates but failed to pass in the Senate.

HB 1110 (Bell) & SB 567 (Barker): Temporary detention; notice of recommendation, communication with magistrate. If a CSB does not recommend a TDO, they must notify the person who initiated the ECO and offer to help them communicate with the magistrate if the person disagrees with the CSB’s recommendation.

  •  Magistrate conducting a TDO hearing must consider information provided by the person who initiated an ECO.
  •  Both bills passed the General Assembly.

HB 1112 (Bell) & SB 568 (Barker): Involuntary admission; contents of preadmission screening report; notice of hearing.

  • The concept of these bills was incorporated into the above legislation.
  • Both bills died in their respective chambers.

Budget Items

Catawba State Hospital

  • The budget eliminates the language and associated funding in the introduced budget that directed DBHDS to begin the planning process to close Catawba.

Hancock Geriatric Treatment Center

  • The budget adds $250,000 the first year and language directing DBHDS to hire a consultant to begin the process to seek Medicaid certification of up to 40 beds at Hancock.

Mental Health Workforce

  • The budget requires DBHDS to conduct a study of ways to expand mental health and primary care professions that are trained to treat children’s mental health issues.
  •  The budget requires the Department of Health to collaborate with the VA Health Care Foundation, DBHDS, the state’s teaching hospitals and other stakeholders to develop a plan to increase the number of behavioral health practitioners in state and local behavioral health agencies and health safety net organizations through the use of a student loan repayment program.
  •  The language sets out provisions that the program include a preference for applicants to practice in underserved areas for at least two years.

Governor’s Access Plan (GAP)

  • The budget eliminates the money proposed for Medicaid expansion
  •  The budget instead increases the eligibility threshold for people with serious mental illness to enroll in the GAP Plan from the current 60% to 80% of the Federal Poverty Level.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

  • The budget also includes 22 million over the biennium to implement a comprehensive Medicaid benefit package for substance abuse treatment.

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.

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Employment Opportunities

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