Health and Human Services Update

February 9, 2021

As the General Assembly passes the crossover milestone, several bills related to health and human services await consideration by the House or Senate, respectively.

Following is a brief overview of bills of interest:

HB 1894 (Kory) adds employees of the Department of Juvenile Justice designated as probation and parole officers or as juvenile correctional officers to the list of professionals who are authorized to possess and administer naloxone (a medication used for opioid overdose reversal) pursuant to an oral, written, or standing order issued by a prescriber or a standing order issued by the Commissioner of Health or his designee.  This bill has passed the House and is before Senate Education and Health.

HB 1989 (Aird) directs the Virginia Department of Health to implement a system for sharing information in real time regarding confirmed cases of communicable diseases of public health threat with emergency medical services (EMS) agencies during a public health emergency.  Information would be derived from reports from local health departments, and would be used by EMS agencies to develop protocols to ensure the safety of EMS personnel in responding to calls for service.  This bill is also before Senate Education and Health.

HB 2065 (McQuinn) directs the Department of Social Services (DSS), in cooperation with the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), to convene a workgroup to develop a plan for a three-year pilot program to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by individuals for whom such dietary modifications are recommended by a care provider.  The plan is to include a process for issuance of vouchers that may be redeemed for purchase of fruits and vegetables and an outline of the role of the two Departments and local government agencies in administering the program, to include cost estimates and sources of funding.  A report is due by October 1, 2021.  This bill is now before Senate Rehabilitation and Social Services.

SB 1307 (Dunnavant) would require the state plan for medical assistance services be amended to provide for the payment of Medicaid-covered services delivered to Medicaid-eligible students, even if the student does not have an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Services provided through telemedicine would be covered.  DMAS would be directed to provide technical assistance to the Department of Education and local school divisions in complying with federal requirements associated with the bill.  This bill should assist school divisions in drawing down federal reimbursement for Medicaid-covered services being provided to students who do not have IEPs, such as behavioral health services.  The bill has passed the Senate and is before House Health, Welfare, and Institutions.

SB 1328 (Mason) would create a state-local program to assist relatives in taking custody of children who would otherwise remain in foster care.  This concept was recommended by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission in its 2018 report on Virginia’s foster care system, as well as by the Virginia Commission on Youth in its 2019 study.  Virginia’s current federally-funded Kinship Guardianship Assistance program provides monthly payments and access to foster care services to relatives who become legal guardians of children in foster care in order to facilitate a permanent placement of the child, but this program requires the potential guardian to be a licensed foster parent for the child for six months in order to qualify, which has limited participation.  The State-Funded Kinship Guardianship program under the bill would operate through the Children’s Services Act structure and provide payments to guardians based on an agreement developed with the local department of social services.  A child would qualify If he or she had been removed from his/her home and been in the custody of the local department of social services for at least 90 days.  Prospective kinship guardians would qualify by completing the relative foster home approval process (or qualifying for a waiver).  The Department of Social Services estimates that 90 children will qualify for the program in FY 2022 and 100 children will qualify in FY 2023 and in subsequent years.  This bill is now before the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee.

VACo Contact:  Katie Boyle

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