Category: Health Care

National Drug Take Back Day – April 29, 2017

Please support our efforts to combat prescription drug abuse by disposing of any unneeded or expired drugs in an environmentally safe manner.  Drugs flushed down the toilet can be released into waterways.

Take part in National Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.  There are two locations convenient to 83rd House District residents:

Norfolk Police, 3rd Division Front Entrance
901 Asbury Ave., Norfolk, VA  23513

Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach Police, 3rd Precinct
926 Independence Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA  23455

What Can You Turn In?

  • All prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Vitamins
  • Veterinary medications
  • Liquid medication in sealed containers
  • Loose pills in sealed bags


2017 Virginia General Assembly Highlights

We commenced the 2017 General Assembly facing a $1.2 billion state budget shortfall and over 2,900 bills and resolutions to review.  I am pleased to report that after working tirelessly to strengthen Virginia’s economy to help middle class families, improve our education system so all children can succeed, and chart a responsible fiscal course for the future, we adjourned the 2017 General Assembly on time on Saturday.

In just 46 days we not only closed the budget shortfall, but also provided our valued state police, state employees and teachers with raises, passed major initiatives geared towards stimulating economic growth, improving education, making college more affordable and attacking the opioid crisis.  

I also carried several pieces of legislation and introduced budget amendments aimed at addressing our region’s need to adapt to flooding, provide mental health support for psychiatric patients, protect young children from substance abuse, restore inflation inpatient hospital payments to CHKD, and restore funds for care coordination for our senior citizens.

I continue to focus my efforts on offering a positive governing vision for our Commonwealth.  I have included a short summary of key highlights  by subject  to provide you with a  general session overview.  The General Assembly will reconvene on April 5th to take action on any budget item or bill amended or vetoed by the Governor.

We are now back in the district office, so please call my district telephone at (757) 633-2080 or email me at should you need assistance with a state agency or would like to share your thoughts on an issue.  I also invite you to connect with me on social media or visit my website at

It is an honor and a privilege to represent you in the House of Delegates.

Warm Regards,


The most important task of the General Assembly is crafting the two year state budget. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I can tell you that this session was especially challenging to pass a state budget that not closed the $1.2 billion shortfall, but also used your taxpayer dollars wisely by investing in the core functions of state government. I am happy to report that the House of Delegates passed a conservative, responsible, and structurally-balanced amended budget protects precious taxpayer resources and funds core services. Here are the highlights of the amended 2016-2018 state budget: - The budget does not contain any tax or fee increases on hardworking Virginians. - 3% salary increase for state employees - We are investing over $18 million in new funding for K-12 more than Governor McAuliffe proposed. Our funding also gives local school divisions added flexibility to spend the money as best fits them. - We’ve secured $32 million for a 2% teacher pay raise, with no local match required, effective February 2018. - We are providing over $20 million in new funding for higher education to hold down tuition costs for Virginia families. - We are making strategic investments in economic development, but adding additional oversight to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. - $32.2 million to strengthen the delivery of mental health services through the expansion of the GAP program, same day arrest, and supportive housing.

Improving our public education system is a top priority for the House of Delegates. We remain committed to supporting our world-class public education system. That is why a 2% teacher pay raise was a priority in this year’s budget. There is also room for innovation is the classroom so all students can learn in a way that best fits their needs. The House passed legislation to create Education Savings Accounts for parents and took steps to finalize the establishment of Virginia’s virtual school. This legislation, combined with our investments in public schools, will help make sure all children have the opportunity to succeed. While most Virginia students attend a good school, some are still being left behind. We are committed to maintaining Virginia’s strong K-12 system, and working to give all children the opportunities in education they deserve by enacting reforms in public education, promoting choice and flexibility, and encouraging early childhood education. Some of the education initiatives passed this session include: - Establishing the Virginia Virtual School to allow students to take K-12 coursework online that is not offered locally. - Awarding verified units of credit for a satisfactory score on the PSAT exam. - Allowing any individual who has obtained a valid out-of-state teachers license reciprocity with Virginia. - Awarding students partial credit for correct answers on multipart Standards of Learning assessment questions. - Establishing a policy for granting undergraduate general education course credit to any entering freshman student who has successfully completed a dual enrollment course. - Broadening eligibility for the Two-Year college Transfer Grant Program by including more low-income students. - Establishing the Online Virginia Network for the delivery of each online course, degree program, and credential program offered by a public institution of higher education.

To help strengthen Virginia’s economy, the House of Delegates advanced several major pieces of legislation aimed at fostering private-sector economic growth, promoting a positive, pro-business climate, and protecting small businesses through regulatory reform. We are also leading the effort to review Virginia’s economic development spending to ensure that we are maximizing the effectiveness of your tax dollars. Key jobs, opportunity and economic growth legislations passed includes: - Making changes to the Small Business Investment Grant Fund to make it easier for investor applicants to qualify for grants and provide more benefits for investor applicants. - Reducing the minimum percentage of revenues that a small business must derive from out-of-state services from 50% to 35% in order to be eligible for grants from the Small Business Jobs Grant Fund Program. - Granting localities authority to create economic revitalization zones to provide incentives to entities to purchase properties. - Reforming the Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority to ensure the Commonwealth has an efficient economic development organization.

In December 2016, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), a state watchdog agency, issued a report entitled “Managing Spending in Virginia Medicaid Program”. This JLARC report highlighted tens of millions of dollars spent unnecessarily on Medicaid, made 35 recommendations for improvements to Virginia’s Medicaid system, and confirmed that Medicaid is a broken system that needs reform. An overburdened Medicaid system results in lower quality care and access for patients. While we continue to reform our Medicaid system, we also passed legislation this session that creates a new innovative healthcare delivery model between patients and doctors that establishes direct primary care agreements. The House of Delegates also passed legislation to establish a uniform framework for determining the value of charity care and requires health care providers required to provide charity care or to contribute to the charity care fund to report their provider data to the Commonwealth.

Attracting and retaining public safety professionals is paramount to providing public safety to our citizens. Therefore, the budget includes $14.6 million to raise the starting salary of state police officers and provide a $6,793 increase to current state troopers. Sheriff's offices and regional jails are also allocated $7.3 million to provide a compression adjustment for employees. With more than 12 million people impacted by domestic violence each year and recidivism rates as high was 40% in some studies, the House of Delegates continued its commitment to empowering and protecting women. More than 36 pieces of legislation aimed at combatting domestic violence has been passed by the House of Delegates in the past 10 years. This session, legislation is also awaiting the Governor's signature that will give protective order protectees with a provisional concealed carry permit and will provide protective order protectees with firearms safety training courses. The passed budget also includes investments in providing crisis, trauma and advocacy services throughout the Commonwealth.

The Governor's proposed budget presented to the General Assembly in December 2016 omitted allocations that support both the district's and the entire region's citizens. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I introduced and advocated for budget amendments that: - Provide partial funding for the Commonwealth's share of a 3 x 3 x 3 study by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The name stands for 3 years, $3 Million and 3 levels of Corps Review. Our Commonwealth had a number of authorized Corps Projects but now we don’t have any left, these 3x3x3 studies will make new recommendations for that the Commonwealth needs to gain federal funding for flooding projects. - Restores payment of an inflation adjustment in inpatient hospital payments to Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters (CHKD) in fiscal year 2018. - Restores funding for Care Coordination for the Elderly Virginians Program. The restoration of funds supports the Southeastern Senior Services Center and other programs throughout the Commonwealth. I carried two pieces of legislation aimed at combatting the opioid crisis. My resolution, HJ745, establishes the Substance-Exposed Infant Awareness week as the first week in July of each year to raise awareness of the impact of substance abuse on our youngest citizens. HB1786 provides family support and protection for infants who are believed to have been exposed to a controlled substance in utero. The bill provides that if a local department of social services receives a report or complaint of suspected child abuse or neglect on the basis of one or more of the aforementioned factors, the local department shall (a) conduct a family assessment, unless an investigation is required by law or is necessary to protect the safety of the child, and (b) develop a plan of safe care in accordance with federal law. The bill directs the State Board of Social Services to promulgate regulations to implement the provisions of the bill. I am pleased to report that the Governor sign HB1786 on February 23, 2017. I introduced HB1877 to provide hospital in-patient psychiatric patients with increased support for transitioning outside the emergency room environment. Requires the Board of Health to promulgate regulations that require each hospital that provides inpatient psychiatric services to establish a protocol that (i) requires, for any refusal to admit a medically stable patient referred to its psychiatric unit, direct verbal communication between the on-call physician in the psychiatric unit and the referring physician, if requested by the referring physician, and (ii) prohibits on-call physicians or other hospital staff from refusing a request for such direct verbal communication by a referring physician. To protect confidentiality, I introduced HB1840 at the request of the Department of Health. This bill states that the results of every test to determine infection with human immunodeficiency virus shall be confidential. Such information may only be released only persons or entities permitted or authorized to obtain protected health information under any applicable federal or state law. When a local coin dealer contacted me to ask me to introduce a bill that will allow Virginians Exempts legal tender coins whose total transaction sales price exceeds $1,000 from sales and use tax and extends from January 1, 2019, to June 30, 2022, the same exemption for gold, silver, or platinum bullion. This bill creates opportunity for Virginia to host much larger trade shows and helps Virginia's small business coin dealers much more competitive in our global economy. It is always especially meaningful to pass legislation that resolves an issue directly impacting constituents and to have constituents make the effort to come testify before committee hearings in Richmond. HB1796 places an end to an issue that has gone on for a few years that has create an impasse between watermen and homeowners. Certain oyster ground leaseholders in the Lynnhaven River are subject to the conduct of approved municipal dredging projects to restore existing navigation channels. The bill limits such projects to oyster grounds that are condemned, restricted, or otherwise nonproductive, and it requires the locality to compensate the lessee for the use of the ground. As the Chair of the General Assembly's Joint Subcommittee on Coastal Flooding, I assisted other members of the committee with advanced legislation that will assist the region in flooding adaption and will directly impact homeowners who take steps to adapt their property by taking steps to reduce their flood risk. My bill to create a Coastal Protection and Flooding Adaption Office advanced through the committee process but was re-referred to the Appropriations Committee to its limited fiscal impact. While I am disappointed that in this tight budget year, the bill was not advanced, I will continue my commitment and advocacy for a more flood ready Commonwealth.

Governor McAuliffe Announces First Veteran Hire Facilitated by Virginia’s Military Medics & Corpsmen Program

The first state program of its kind in the nation assists transitioning veterans and transitioning medics and corpsmen to find employment in healthcare fields

RICHMOND – Governor McAuliffe today announced the first veteran hire facilitated by Virginia’s Military Medics and Corpsmen Program (MMAC). The Governor proposed the legislation for the program using the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Intermediate Care Technician (ICT) Program, as a model. MMAC, is a two-year pilot program which allows recently discharged veterans and transitioning medics and corpsmen to perform certain medical procedures under the supervision of a physician or podiatrist at major healthcare systems across the Commonwealth. 

“With the fastest growing veteran population in the Nation, Virginia is full of talent and tremendous skill sets that must be utilized to grow the workforce and economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Healthcare is projected to be the largest employment sector of the U.S. economy, and Virginia wants to ensure that we attract and retain as many of the over 11,000 medics and corpsmen that transition out of the military every year as we can. This innovative program creates an immediate pathway to jobs for veterans and provides a talent pool for our healthcare providers as they work to find the best and brightest in a growing industry.”

The program is authorized by legislation (HB825-Stolle) and passed the Virginia General Assembly with tremendous support. It focuses on a solution that addresses healthcare staffing shortages and boosts veteran hiring. Army medics, Navy and Coast Guard corpsmen, and Air Force medical technicians receive extensive and valuable healthcare training while on active duty. When they transition to civilian life, their military healthcare training often does not translate into comparable certifications or licenses required for civilian healthcare jobs. Many medically trained veterans often struggle to find unemployment and cannot apply their skills in the civilian healthcare sector. 

“MMAC facilitates veteran hiring and helps this pool of uniquely qualified veterans keep their clinical skills current while obtaining their civilian credentials and continuing their medical education,” said John C. Harvey, Jr., Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs. “MMAC meets the urgent health care needs being faced throughout the Commonwealth.”

The Virginia Department of Veterans Services recruits and screens candidates worldwide and assists with job placement. The hiring decisions, general scope of practice, and potential credentialing and educational opportunities are determined by the MMAC partner healthcare systems. Memoranda of Agreement have already been signed with two partners: Bon Secours Virginia Health System and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare.  Agreements are pending with Carilion Clinic, Inova Health System, Mountain States Health Alliance, and Sentara.

“Chesapeake Regional Healthcare (CRH) was the first MMAC Partner healthcare system to begin accepting MMAC Program candidates and is proud to be the first to benefit from the program. Our first hire, Jeffrey Filler, served as a Navy Corpsman and will capitalize on the exceptional skill set he earned in the United States Navy by serving as an Anesthesia Technician at CRH while seeking his civilian credentials in this field,” noted Dr. Alton Stocks, Former Interim Chief Executive Officer of CRH and previous U.S. Navy Medical Corps Officer.

To find out more, visit, or click here to learn more details about the MMAC Program.


Opioids Package Passes the House

If you’ve watched the news over the last 6 months, you’ve no doubt heard about the heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping across Virginia. No city or county has been untouched. While the Department of Health is still evaluating the numbers, Virginia is on track to meet the Health Department’s projections of over 1,000 fatal opioid overdoses in 2016, the highest in the history of the Commonwealth.

This week Delegate Todd Pillion (R-Washington) spoke on the house floor about that gravity of the situation. He shared the many House bills we are advocating to address the various aspects of this epidemic to include: creating a workgroup to identify resources to help substance-exposed infants, developing core competencies and standards for our health professionals in training, and directing the Board of Medicine and Dentistry to develop regulations on the prescribing of opioids including dosage limits, treatment plans and Prescription Monitoring Program utilization.

I am pleased to report that I introduced two pieces of legislation to  address the substance-abuse crisis have also passed.



VHHA Honors 2016 HosPAC Health Care Hero Award Recipients

Eight Virginia General Assembly Members Who Exemplify Leadership on Health Care Issues Among This Year’s Winners

RICHMOND, VA – Eight esteemed state lawmakers are recipients of the 2016 HosPAC Health Care Hero Award that recognizes legislators who epitomize leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the mission of the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association in the community and the Virginia General Assembly. Award recipients for 2016 are Senator George L. Barker (D-Fairfax County); Delegate M. Keith Hodges (R-Urbanna); Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington County); Senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax County); Delegate Matthew James (D-Portsmouth); Senator Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg); Senator William M. Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin County); and Delegate Christopher P. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach).

Presented by VHHA’s HosPAC (political action committee), the awards are bestowed on elected officials who have a demonstrated record of supporting issues related to hospitals and health care, have taken important stands on behalf of hospitals and health care, have introduced or supported priority legislation impacting hospitals and health care, and shown proven leadership in effecting significant change to benefit hospitals and health care.

“Access to quality health care is important to the well-being of Virginians and the economic prosperity of the Commonwealth. Bi-partisan, common sense health care public policy decisions that support our health care system are vital to a healthy and productive Virginia,” said 2016 HosPAC Campaign Chair E.W. Tibbs Jr., the President and CEO of Lynchburg-based Centra Health System. “The eight Virginia citizen legislators selected as 2016 HosPAC Health Care Hero Award recipients have each worked to advance health care policy solutions in the General Assembly. On behalf of community hospitals and health systems across the Commonwealth, I applaud and congratulate these deserving awardees.”

“Advocating for complex health care policy isn’t always easy. It can take commitment and investment of time and effort to comprehend its intricacies. It is critically important to have engaged legislators take on these tough issues on behalf of the health care needs of all Virginians,” added HosPAC Board Chairman James W. Dunn, Vice President for Advocacy and Community Affairs with Bon Secours Virginia Health
System. “The health care community is grateful to have support from accomplished legislative leaders willing to passionately engage on such important public policy issues.”

The 2016 HosPAC Health Care Hero Award recipients are:

  • Senator George L. Barker (D-Fairfax County). Senator Barker is widely recognized as one of the most knowledgeable legislators on health care issues. He has consistently championed proposals to improve the health of the Commonwealth, its hospitals, and citizens. Behavioral health has been a major focus for Senator Barker, who has offered many proposals to improve services and treatment for some of Virginia’s most needy. On Certificate of Public Need (COPN), Senator Barker’s efforts during the 2016 General Assembly session were critical in shaping the reform debate, and he continues to work as an effective advocate towards a sensible policy solution on that issue.
  • Delegate M. Keith Hodges (R-Urbanna). As a pharmacist and hospital board member, Delegate Hodges’ deep knowledge and understanding of the challenges facing hospitals and Virginians is invaluable on the House of Delegates’ Health, Welfare, and Institutions (HWI) Committee. Delegate Hodges has demonstrated a commitment to doing what is in the best interest of local hospitals and patients during his General Assembly tenure. Nowhere is this commitment more evident than his steadfast support for responsibly reforming COPN.
  • Delegate Patrick A. Hope (D-Arlington County). As a member of the HWI Committee, Delegate Hope continually demonstrates his commitment to his local hospitals and improving access to care throughout the Commonwealth. He has been an ardent and vocal supporter of helpful health care public policy initiatives in word and deed. Delegate Hope recognizes the challenges facing our health care system, and he demonstrates strong leadership on identifying innovative solutions to those challenges.
  • Senator Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax County). For years, Senator Janet Howell has been a tireless champion for health care, including her years of service on the Senate Education and Health Committee. Senator Howell has been recognized nationally for her work on improving the health care of children in her district and throughout the state. She has also been a strong voice on mental health and health care access issues.
  • Delegate Matthew James (D-Portsmouth). As an up and coming leader on the Appropriations and HWI committees, Delegate Matthew James’ engagement on health care issues is invaluable within the House of Delegates. Coupled with his experience as a hospital board member, Delegate James brings a deep understanding of the challenges facing access to health care and local hospitals. Delegate James has long advocated for effective solutions to addressing these challenges, including expanding access to care and responsibly reforming COPN.
  • Senator Stephen D. Newman (R-Lynchburg). Senator Newman has long been focused on the “Virginia Way” – identifying complex policy challenges and working with diverse constituencies towards compromise. As Chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, Senator Newman takes that approach to addressing the difficult challenges facing our health care system. Senator Newman’s recognition that introducing more competition into our health care system requires the establishment of a level playing field in which market inequities faced by our hospitals are substantively addressed is a critical step in resolving the broader challenges facing our health care system.
  • Senator William M. Stanley Jr. (R-Franklin County). When it comes to advocating for solutions to the challenges facing our health care system, Senator Stanley has long been a leader in the Virginia Senate. In 2016, he championed VHHA-supported legislation to reform COPN, and to implement a new telemedicine pilot program for nurse practitioners to expand access to care. Senator Stanley has also led efforts to ensure more Virginia medical students stay in Virginia and practice in medically underserved communities. And he has shown a willingness to think creatively and advocate for achievable policies to improve the health of the Commonwealth.
  • Delegate Christopher P. Stolle (R-Virginia Beach). Delegate Stolle is among the General Assembly’s most steadfast supporters of Virginia hospitals and health systems.As a legislator, physician by training, and a hospital administrator, Delegate Stolle is quite familiar with the challenges facing the Commonwealth’s health care system. He has been a vocal supporter of sensible COPN reform. In 2016, he carried VHHA-supported legislation to responsibly reform the program to make it work better for all constituents. He also carried legislation to implement a new pilot program to streamline the process for veterans with medical training to receive the additional training necessary to enter civilian practice. Throughout his time in the legislature, Delegate Stolle has advanced many policy proposals intended to improve the health of the Commonwealth, its citizens, and its hospitals.

This is the second year the HosPAC Health Care Hero Award has been bestowed on Virginia legislators. Award recipients from the 2015 inaugural class include Senator Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta County); Delegate Terry G. Kilgore (R-Gate City); Senator Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax County); and Delegate David J. Toscano (D-Charlottesville.). View the 2015 winners online here, and the 2016 recipients here.

About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 107 hospitals and 30 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its vision is to achieve excellence in both health care and health. Its vision is through the power of collaboration to be recognized as a driving force behind making Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.


Gov. McAuliffe announces new Veterans Care Center in Virginia Beach


Gov. McAuliffe announces new Veterans Care Center in Hampton R…

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announces that Virginia Beach will soon be home to the first Veterans Care Center in Hampton Roads.Details:

Posted by WTKR News 3 on Friday, August 26, 2016

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe joined Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms and other area leaders on Friday to announce that Virginia Beach will soon be home to the first Veterans Care Center in Hampton Roads.

The new veterans care center will be a state-of-the-art facility providing skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, as well as short-term rehabilitative care. The center will serve the Hampton Roads region, home to more than 200,000 veterans.

The new 120-bed facility will provide affordable, long-term nursing care for honorably discharged veterans; Virginia residents at the time of admission or entry to Armed Forces; and people who meet the medical requirements for level of care if the facility provides the level of care that is needed.

“This is terrific news for our veterans, the heroes who have given everything to serve the United States and to guarantee our freedoms,” said Delegate Chris Stolle, a U.S. Navy veteran who helped make the center a reality. “We are now set to build a place in Virginia Beach where veterans can receive the help they need – the help they deserve.”

The center will be located on 24-acres along the bio-medical corridor in the Princess Anne area. The location will also allow veterans to have convenient access to labs, physical therapy and other healthcare facilities in the corridor.

“I am pleased to announce that the center will be built on land donated by the City of Virginia Beach, at no cost to the state,” McAuliffe said. “The new Veterans Care Center will be a state-of-the-art facility providing skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/dementia care and short-term rehabilitative care. The Hampton Roads region is home to more than 200,000 veterans, the largest concentration in the commonwealth, and we owe it to them and their families to build this new facility.”

The new Hampton Roads Veterans Care Center and another being built in Northern Virginia will result in about 600 new jobs in those areas.

On Match Day, VCU medical students learn their fates

Richmond Times Dispatch

Team Houser — fourth-year medical student Christina Houser’s parents, fiancé, aunt and neighbor — wore color-coordinated jerseys and feather boas as they waited and waited and waited for Houser’s name to be called at medical school Match Day on Friday.

Finally, it was, the very last name called as Virginia Commonwealth University medical students learned where they will do the next three to seven years of their medical training.

Houser got her top pick — Georgetown-Washington Hospital Center, where she will do a residency in emergency medicine.

“You get a lot of variety in emergency medicine. Very high acuity. Every day is different. And you really get to be involved in the community and make an impact,” Houser said.

She also got a pot of money in a tradition in which the students take up a collection for the senior who winds up being called last.

“Being last in the match order was quite the wait, but it came with a $150 basket. I used the money to buy the other students a round of drinks after the ceremony,” Houser said.

Across the country, 35,476 medical school seniors and others applied for 30,750 residency positions. They were told Monday whether they had matched but learned in ceremonies that started at noon Friday where they matched. Those who did not match initially were able to go through another round of matching for residency slots left unfilled.

VCU held its Match Day ceremony at the Hippodrome Theater. Students gathered in an open space with family and friends. Nerves kept many from the tables of food on the sidelines.

Houser’s family came from Southern California to be with her. The purple, yellow and green boas were a nod to New Orleans, where Houser did her undergraduate work at Tulane University.

“It is such an incredible day,” said Matthew Houser, her father. “We want her to go wherever she is going to be happy and will fit best. She has all good options. She’s done a wonderful job. It’s been her lifelong dream to be a doctor. We just feel so grateful and blessed to be here today.”

Anderson and Sandra George drove from Virginia Beach to share the day with son Akeem George, who matched in a pediatrics residency at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

“It’s been a long time coming. From a kid, this is something he always wanted to do,” Anderson George said.

Akeem George is one of two black men in the medical school senior class.

“VCU creates an environment where everyone feels supported,” Akeem George said. “We have a strong support network for all students.”

It wasn’t cheers for everyone. One young woman sat on a curb outside of the theater, tearful.

Of growing concern is the number of medical school graduates who do not get matched with a residency program. They can try again next year. Some do a year of research in the interim. According to the National Resident Matching Program, 5.4 percent of medical school seniors were unmatched this year.

“We’re seeing more and more students who fail to match across the country,” said Del. Christopher P. Stolle, R-Virginia Beach, a physician. Stolle sponsored legislation in the General Assembly that would have allowed medical school graduates to practice as “associate doctors” under the supervision of a licensed physician. House Bill 900 was continued to next year.

“In Virginia alone … we are actually turning out a lot more medical students than we used to, but we haven’t increased the residency slots,” Stolle said. “We’re turning out more folks who could become doctors, but we have a choke point.”

Medical residency slots are funded in part by federal payments to teaching hospitals for graduate medical education. Even as the nation faces a looming physicians shortage, the number of residency slots is capped and has not kept up, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

House passes legislation lowering healthcare costs AND promoting hiring of veterans



The Bull Elephant – Steve Albertson

A bill patroned by Del. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) would allow military trained medics and corpsmen to practice medicine under the supervision of licensed physicians.

Although it might seem like a unique moment when Republicans all agree on something, it’s actually not as rare as it seems. In Virginia, although there are wide differences of opinion on things like Medicaid Expansion By Another Name, and increases in the 2013 gas tax, Republicans still have a lot more that keeps us together than drives us apart.

One great example of this is legislation promoted by Del. Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) and just passed by the House of Delegates that would allow former military medics and corpsmen (the enlisted folks who patch people up on the battlefield, and who run military hospitals and medical clinics) immediate opportunities in the private sector.

The bill, HB 825, establishes a pilot program in which former Army medics, Air Force medical technicians, and Navy Corpsmen may perform certain functions that constitute the practice of medicine under Virginia law, so long as they are under the supervision of a licensed physician. Previously, these veterans would have had to undergo the same training and certification programs as civilians who don’t have the benefit of rigorous military medical training. In a statement released by House Republicans, Del. Stolle had this to say about the program:

“Military medics and corpsmen receive extensive health care training while on active duty. Once they transition to civilian life, their military health care experiences do not easily translate into comparable certifications and licenses required for health care jobs. As a result, many veteran medics are unable to gain employment. Virginia has already made progress on efforts to translate veterans’ military experience into academic credit, however significant hurdles still exist with health care licenses.

This legislation will create a pilot program to help military medics smoothly transition to a medical career in the private sector without having to go through additional training they have already received in the military. I am proud to sponsor this legislation and support our veterans.”

The benefits to military veterans here are clear. They get to take advantage of the training already paid for by Uncle Sam, and get good paying jobs immediately upon discharge from military service. The other benefit of such a program that hasn’t yet been heralded is the potential for lower health care costs.

Just as the country is facing increasing demand for the services of physicians, a shortage of doctors is developing. We all know that when something in demand gets more scarce, the price of that thing goes up. Although Stolle’s bill just starts a pilot program, should it prove successful the medical community could have immediate access to a pool of talented, motivated, and highly-trained medical professionals whose expertise could help alleviate cost pressures facing hospitals and primary care practices around the country. Even in the absence of a doctor shortage, if many functions of primary care physicians could be attended to in a more cost-effective manner, this could have positive ripple effects across the healthcare system.

So, good job, House Republicans! This is a great idea. Here’s hoping it passes into law, and makes enough of a positive impact in the pilot stage to get rolled out on a larger scale.

Speaker Howell and Delegate Chris Stolle on Governor McAuliffe’s veto of HB 2322

Augusta Free Press – May 1, 2015

Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell and Delegate Chris Stolle (R-Virginia Beach) commented Friday on Governor Terry McAuliffe’s veto of House Bill 2322, which would have allowed Virginia insurance companies to offer affordable healthcare plans if the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act in King v. Burwell.

“The pending Supreme Court case could potentially impact hundreds of thousands of Virginians and leave them without access to affordable health coverage,” said Speaker Howell. “Passing HB2322 was a proactive step by the General Assembly to make sure Virginians are able to purchase alternative coverage if the Court rules against Obamacare. The Governor’s veto jeopardizes the health coverage of thousands of Virginians who are caught in Obamacare’s tangled mess.”

“I introduced this legislation in advance of the Supreme Court’s ruling to give insurance companies additional flexibility to respond to the Court’s decision and to ensure that Virginians would not be left without access to affordable coverage,” said Delegate Stolle. “The Governor’s veto means that Virginia will be left with few options to deal with the ramifications of this huge case.”

HB 2322 would allow insurance companies to offer plans that do not meet the essential benefits package requirements of the Affordable Care Act if the subsidies offered to Virginians through the federal exchange are ruled illegal.

Delegate wants to clarify law on treatment vs. suffering

The Virginian Pilot, Elizabeth Simpson – January 31, 2015

The bedside request has put many a doctor in a quandary: Relatives want to continue aggressive treatment of loved ones that won’t improve their condition and may even prolong suffering.
The cases aren’t a daily occurrence, but they’re important and difficult enough that a local delegate is sponsoring a bill to bring some clarity to the law.
Del. Chris Stolle, a Virginia Beach Republican who is a doctor, was approached by other doctors to clarify state law to say a physician has the right to stop care that’s “medically and ethically inappropriate” over the objections of the patient, family or advocate after a 14-day period of trying to transfer the patient to a doctor or hospital who will provide such care.

Currently, the law says a doctor must try to find other care during that period but leaves hanging what can be done once the time comes to a close.

“There needs to be some closing of the loophole,” Stolle said in a phone interview.

can be done once the time comes to a close.”There needs to be some closing of the loophole,” Stolle said in a phone interview.

Dr. Earl White, a retired doctor who sits on Sentara Healthcare’s ethics advisory council, said he supports the idea, but he would like to see language added to the bill to include an ethics committee review.

That is what happens at Sentara hospitals, according to White and David Cochran, who directs palliative care for Sentara Healthcare. Cochran said a “medical appropriateness review committee” pulls together an interdisciplinary group of people, some of whom aren’t involved in the case, along with clergy, patient and nurse representatives and other health care providers, to determine whether continuing treatment is appropriate.

If the committee agrees the care is not appropriate, it is stopped after the 14-day period, and comfort measures such as pain control are used.

Cochran said the committee was set up in 2006 and has reviewed about a dozen cases. He said that only three of the cases went the full 14 days, and that most patients died during that period even with aggressive treatment.

He said the cases have commonalities:

In most, patients do not have living wills or advance medical directives that spell out end-of-life desires. The patients are usually unable to communicate what kind of treatment they want. Relatives usually don’t want to stop care such as a ventilator that helps a patient continue breathing or dialysis that would do the work of failing kidneys.

“There are technical aspects of end-of-life care that don’t work like they do on TV. So people have unrealistic expectations,” Cochran said.

White said in some cases the patient’s chest is rising and falling, or eyes are open, and families are unwilling to stop the technology that is making that happen, even if the patient has no hope of improving.

There’s been an upswing in such cases as science and technology have advanced to the point where people can be kept alive by machines.

“We can sustain people who previously would not have survived,” White said. “We have gotten to where, physiologically, they’re alive, but we can’t restore them to their former self or to the quality of life they would like to have.”

He said in such cases, palliative care, which treats pain and provides comfort, may be more appropriate than measures such as CPR, dialysis and ventilators.
Spokeswomen from Bon Secours Hampton Roads and Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters said those systems also have ethics review committees that hear cases when an impasse occurs between hospital staff and family.

Chesapeake Regional Medical Center also has an ethics committee, according to spokeswoman Sarah Kehr, who emailed this response:

“An ethics consult can be requested by a physician, nurse, any other medical professional, a patient’s designated decision maker, significant other, or other family member if an ethical issue is identified.”

White said these situations point out the need for people to write advance medical directives. A collaboration of local health systems and area agencies on aging recently set up a website – – to help people do that.

In a follow-up interview Friday, Stolle said his bill is an attempt to close a gap in the code regarding care that doctors provide, rather than hospitals, so he’s not planning to add anything else to it at this time. He said it’s the first time he has presented such a measure, so he’s not sure of its chances of passing:

“It’s one of those bills that it’s hard to predict. It makes sense, but it also makes people nervous.”