The Joint Commission on Health Care (JCHC), a standing Commission of the General Assembly, was established in 1992 to continue the work of the Commission on Health Care for All Virginians. The statutory authority for JCHC in Code of Virginia, Title 30, Chapter 18, states in part: "The purpose of the Joint Commission on Health Care is to study, report, and make recommendations on all areas of health care provision, regulation, insurance, liability, licensing, and delivery of services." As of July 1, 2003, JCHC assumed the responsibilities of the Joint Commission on Behavioral Health Care.
2004 ACTIVITIES OF THE JOINT COMMISSION ON HEALTH CARE
In keeping with its statutory mandate, the Joint Commission completed studies; considered the comments of advocates, industry representatives, and other interested parties; and introduced legislation to advance the quality of health care, long-term care and behavioral health care in the Commonwealth.
JCHC met four times between May and December 2004, and the findings of the following staff reports were considered:
• Review of Prescriptive Authority of Physician Assistants (HB 2318 - 2001)
• Review of Medicaid Reimbursement of Physicians (SJR 38/HJR 42 - 2002)
• Healthy Lives Prescription Assistance Plan (SB 1341 / HB2225 - 2003)
• Review of Virginia's Newborn Screening Program (HJR 164 - 2004)
• Interim Report on Mental Health Needs and Treatment of Young Minority Adults (SJR 25 - 2004)
• Benefits of Public-Private Partnerships to Medicaid Recipients (SJR 58 - 2004)
• Disclosure of Health Records (HJR 134 - 2004)
JCHC members also considered issues presented during the following presentations:
• Activities of the Office of the Managed Care Ombudsman by Thomas S. Bridenstine, Managed Care Ombudsman of the State Corporation Commission
• Update on Family Access to Medical Insurance Security by Linda L. Nablo of the Department of Medical Assistance Services
• Annual Report of Virginia Health Information by Richardson Grinnan, M.D., of the Virginia Health Information Board
• Issues Affecting Women's Obstetrical and Gynecological Health by Jeffrey Lake of the Virginia Department of Health
JCHC Subcommittees. The Joint Commission on Health Care has established two ongoing, standing Subcommittees - the Long-Term Care Subcommittee and the Behavioral Health Care Subcommittee.
During 2004, the Long-Term Care Subcommittee considered issues addressing the regulation of assisted living facilities, staffing standards for nursing facilities, incentives to purchase long-term care insurance, health savings account provisions, recommendations of Virginia's Olmstead Plan, the worsening shortage of nurses, and the cost of liability insurance for nursing facilities.
The Behavioral Health Care Subcommittee monitored the development of the preferred drug list for Medicaid, reviewed the reinvestment and restructuring initiatives being undertaken in the mental health arena, and considered initiatives for providing behavioral health services for adult and juvenile offenders.
LEGISLATION PROPOSED FOR THE 2005 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
The legislative package for the Joint Commission included 16 bills, three resolutions, and 19 budget amendments. (The 19 budget amendments were introduced in both chambers of the General Assembly.)
The legislative package included bills addressing assisted living facilities, newborn screening, health savings accounts, employer tax credits for providing long-term care insurance, and statutory compliance with the Privacy Rule promulgated under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Resolutions were introduced to address "wrap-around" Medicare prescription drug coverage and the feasibility of distributing prescription-assistance information during Mission of Mercy projects.