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 Commission is to study, report, and make recommendations on all areas of health care provision, regulation, insurance, liability, licensing, and delivery of services. In so doing, the Commission shall endeavor to ensure that the Commonwealth as provider, financier, and regulator adopts the most cost-effective and efficacious means of delivery of health care services so that the greatest number of Virginians receive quality health care. Further, the Commission shall encourage the development of uniform policies and services to ensure the availability of quality, affordable and accessible health services and provide a forum for continuing the review and study of programs and services." Moreover, as of July 1, 2003, JCHC assumed the responsibilities of the Joint Commission on Behavioral Health Care.
2005 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 five times between May and December 2005, and the findings of the following staff reports were considered:
• Review of Needs of Patients Found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (SJR 24 - 2005)
• Review of Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Treatment on Virginia's System of Care (Appropriations Act - Item 11.B, Regular Session, 2005)
• Review of Medicaid Asset Transfer Allowances (Chairman's Request - HB 2601)
• Healthy Lives Prescription Assistance Plan (SB 1341/HB2225 – 2003)
• Licensing of Dietitians (Chairman's Request HB 455 – 2005)
• Final Report on Mental Health Needs and Treatment of Young Minority Adults (SJR 25 – 2004)
During JCHC meetings, additional presentations were made addressing such topics as the Medicaid preferred drug list, disease management program, and reimbursement rates for home and community-based services; Virginia Health Information initiatives; and an update on improvements in access to obstetrical care in Virginia.
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 2005, the Long-Term Care Subcommittee considered such issues as newly-enacted legislation regulating assisted living facilities, the supply of nurses in Virginia, incentives to purchase long-term care insurance, provisions related to health savings accounts, and pain management provided in nursing facilities.
The Behavioral Health Care Subcommittee considered such topics as programs provided for students with autism in Chesterfield County schools; behavioral health services provided by community health centers and free clinics; programs to provide behavioral health services for mentally ill offenders; and the integrated strategic plan of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services.
Legislation Proposed for the 2006 General Assembly Session
The JCHC legislative package included 13 bills, four resolutions, and 14 budget amendments. Bills addressing such issues as long-term care tax credits, the sunset date for local health partnership authorities, and provisions affecting individuals found not guilty by reason of insanity were introduced. Resolutions were introduced to address improving education and training related to the needs of children with autism and to evaluate the impact of federal asset transfer legislation on Virginia’s Medicaid program.