Virginians for Integrity in Government scholarship essay contest Go to their website at www.mypoliticalhero.org
The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning for this evening through early tomorrow morning. Expected accumulations of up to 12 inches of snow are expected to impact the entire Commonwealth.
Please, if you must be on the roads tonight or tomorrow, take caution and drive safely. Tune in to local media for updates on the storm, road conditions and school closings and delays. And most importantly -- stay safe!
Below are some links to resources around the area to watch during this winter storm.
Virginia Department of Emergency Management
- www.ReadyVirginia.gov provides resources from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
- You can get tips on making a weather preparedness plan here.
- Tips and information for dealing with outages can be found here.
- Dominion: (1-866-366-4357) their Outage Map and Storm Center can be reached here.
Again, please take extreme caution in the upcoming days.
During the storm, if you see a problem that needs immediate attention, or if I can be of further assistance during this time, please do not hesitate to contact me at 757-382-4156 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Veteran Related Ballot Question
Question: Shall Section 6-A of Article X (Taxation and Finance) of the Constitution of Virginia be amended to allow the General Assembly to exempt from taxation the real property of the surviving spouse of any member of the armed forces of the United States who was killed in action, where the surviving spouse occupies the real property as his or her principal place of residence and has not remarried?
You will see the question above on this year's ballot. This is a constitutional amendment that culminates a two year effort to correct an oversight in the real estate tax exemption for 100% disabled veterans. Attached is an excellent summary of the Amendment prepared by Del. David Ramadan (R-87), the Chief patron for legislation that put the Amendment on the ballot. It gives the key impact of the Amendment and details the solid legislative and veteran support it has received over the last two years. I urge a yes vote for the Amendment! You can help ensure passage of the Amendment by sharing the attachment with your family and friends and asking them to vote yes for this Amendment.
Update on Ebola
In response to the Ebola outbreak in the United States, the Virginia Department of Health is taking a number of steps to prevent and combat the disease here in the Commonwealth.
On Monday the Department of Health implemented an Active Monitoring Program to monitor those most at-risk for contracting Ebola. Local health departments will begin monitoring all travelers arriving from West African nations suffering from the outbreak. Health officials will stay in contact with these travelers every day throughout a 21-day period and develop individually-tailored monitoring plans.
The Department of Health held a conference call with General Assembly leaders today and indicated they are prepared to take additional steps as needed. This includes isolating or quarantining individuals if necessary.
I will keep you up-to-date on steps the state is taking to prevent an Ebola outbreak in Virginia. More information on Ebola is included below.
What is Ebola?
Ebola is one of numerous Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers. It is a severe, often fatal disease. Sporadic cases and outbreaks of Ebola have been reported throughout Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on September 30, 2014, through laboratory tests, the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States in a person who had traveled to Dallas, Texas from West Africa.
What are the symptoms of Ebola?
Fever (greater than 100.4°F)
Abdominal (stomach) pain
Unexplained hemorrhage (bleeding or bruising)
Fever is usually the first symptom that appears.
How soon after exposure do symptoms usually occur?
Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after exposure to Ebola, but the average is 8 to 10 days.
How is Ebola spread?
Almost always, Ebola is spread from person to person through direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with blood or body fluids (like urine, feces, saliva, vomit, sweat, breast milk, or semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola or has died from Ebola.
Ebola may also be spread through indirect contact with surfaces or objects (like needles) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola or has died from Ebola.
Ebola is not spread through the air, water, or food. However, in Africa, Ebola may be spread as a result of handling bushmeat (wild animals hunted for food) and contact with infected bats.
Ebola cannot be spread through casual contact in public places with people who do not appear to be sick.
What happens if an Ebola outbreak occurs in Virginia?
Upon receiving a report of a probable "high risk" and/or laboratory confirmation of an Ebola case in Virginia, the following actions would occur concurrently and in coordination with the treating clinician(s) and hospital, the local health district, the Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Protecting Healthcare Workers
- Ensure the medical care facility is aware of the diagnosis and that all healthcare workers are following recommended precautions, including use of personal protective equipment for standard, droplet, and contact precautions.
- Recommend, per CDC guidance, that specimen collection be kept to a minimum for the patient and that laboratory workers and others handling specimens are aware of the potential diagnosis and are following all recommended precautions to prevent work-related exposures to the virus.
Identifying and Monitoring Personal Contacts of the Ill Individual
- Collect as much information about the ill person as possible by asking healthcare workers already in contact with the patient to conduct comprehensive interviews (travel and exposure history, description and history of illness, and dates and types of interactions the person had with anyone since the earlier signs of illness)
- Locate and speak with every person who had the type of contact with the ill person that could potentially lead to blood or body fluid exposures since the onset of the earliest symptom, such as when the fever presented. These contacts may include, but are not limited to, household or other close contacts, emergency medical services providers, health care workers providing care to the patient, and laboratorians.
- Direct contacts to monitor his/her temperature twice each day and record it in a written log and coordinate daily monitoring of contacts by the Department for out-of-hospital contacts and by hospital for healthcare workplace contacts.
- Advise contacts including health care workers, per CDC guidance, that they may perform usual daily activities unless any symptoms of illness develop. An exception is that the contacts will be asked to refrain from taking long trips on public conveyances. (If specific conditions warrant, the Commissioner has the authority to issue an order of quarantine per existing law and regulations.)
- If contact develops symptoms, direct person to stay home and away from others to watch to see if symptoms worsen. Person will be evaluated to determine if symptoms are compatible with Ebola. If symptoms are such that medical care is required, health care providers would be notified in advance of any care-seeking so that precautions can be put into place to prevent any further exposures.
- Coordinate information for senior leadership, interagency, and federal and state partners.
- Coordinate public messaging with hospital, local health district, DCLS, CDC, and other agencies (e.g., VDEM). If there is laboratory confirmation of Ebola, there will be an initial press conference with, at a minimum, State Health Commissioner, local health director and hospital leadership.
- Provide key risk communication messages to the public:
- Ebola virus is not communicable to others until a person exhibits signs of illness.
- Only persons who have had direct contact with the blood and body fluids of someone ill with Ebola are at risk of infection.
- Infection prevention measures used every day in U.S. health care are sufficient to prevent the spread of Ebola.
- There is a coordinated public health and health care response that will contain the spread of Ebola in Virginia.
Coordinating the Response
- Activate incident command if there is laboratory confirmation of Ebola. At a minimum, the local health district response would operate under incident command with support of the Department's Emergency Coordination Center and Central Office resources.
For more answers to frequently asked questions, please visit: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/epidemiology/ebola/
Delegate J.A. “Jay” Leftwich, Jr. was recognized last evening by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce for his strong support of business initiatives that will continue to move Virginia forward. He received an A+ for the 2014 legislative session and was named a Champion of free Enterprise along with a number of his colleagues. Barry Duval, President and CEO, VA Chamber said “We applaud Delegate Leftwich’s efforts in supporting the principles outlined in Blueprint Virginia. With the support of pro-business legislators like Delegate Leftwich, we can continue to strengthen Virginia’s business climate and maintain Virginia’s ranking as the Best State for Business.”
Delegate Leftwich, a Chesapeake business owner and former Chairman of the Chesapeake School Board was in Arlington last evening at the Legislative Awards Reception and Dinner and 90th Anniversary Celebration. He congratulates “Delegate Terry Kilgore on being named the 2014 Legislator of the Year. Under his leadership we were able to pass key legislation advancing Virginia’s pro-business commitment.”
The Legislative Report Card can be viewed at http://www.vachamber.com.
Expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare”
The state budget is being used to strong arm Medicaid expansion even though Governor Terry McAuliffe stated, on September 24, 2013, it is wrong to use the “threat of a government shutdown as a bargaining chip in other negotiations, including over the health care law.” Even the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, who favors expansion, believes the issue should be separated from the budget process. Unfortunately, five months after his statement, Governor McAuliffe and Senate Democrats are steadfast in including the expansion of Medicaid in this year’s budget rather than follow the guidance and recommendations of the bipartisan Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (“MIRC”), created in 2013.
House Republicans are committed to promoting quality, affordable healthcare for Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens. For this reason, it passed a budget plan that provides additional funding for hospitals like Chesapeake Regional Medical Center and our free clinics and community health centers like Chesapeake Care.
Medicaid expansion, without reforms and careful planning, will adversely affect Virginia’s fiscal integrity. We have all heard the federal government will reimburse states 100% the first three years. Less advertised, is that this reimbursement is for patient care only- not the State’s cost to hire additional employees to implement and manage an expanded program. It is estimated Virginia would need to hire one additional full time employee for every $1,000 new enrollees of Medicaid. By most estimates, Virginia may have as many as 400,000 new eligible participants. If just 2/3 of those eligible enroll in expanded Medicaid, a conservative estimate of the expense to the state is $16,000,000.00. This expenditure would be immediate and difficult to fund on a continuing basis without raising taxes or cutting other areas of the budget, such as public Education. Nevertheless, it is inconsequential compared to the financial burden that occurs when Virginia must pay its projected 10% share of patient care.
We often hear Virginia is foregoing 5 million in federal money each day it does not expand Medicaid; this equates to 1.8 billion dollars annually, which would be used to pay for patient care of new enrollees. Ten percent of this is $182,500,000.00. How will the General Assembly be able to fund $200,000,000.00 in additional and continuing annual expense without significant tax increases and/or budget cuts?
It is important to note these are very conservative budgetary numbers as new programs normally cost more than anticipated. For example, when Medicaid was created the first year cost was projected to be 238 million; the actual cost was over 1 billion. When Medicare was first created, the projected cost in 1990 was 12 billion; the actual cost was 90 billion. Further illustrating this concern is that the cost of Virginia’s current Medicaid program has increased by 1,600 percent over the last 30 years; 1.8 billion in 2004 to 3.7 billion in 2014. Adoption of Medicaid expansion without reforms could leave Virginia with dire budget deficits. To this, many have said we can simply cut or terminate the program. However, the Affordable Care Act does not contain affirmative language that allows reduction or termination and some states are finding the “flexibility” the federal government promised when its program was approved, in fact, was not flexible when changes by that state were requested. Unfortunately, we are discovering through the experiences of other states that the federal government will not relinquish control regardless of the promises made.
While the foregoing is reason to allow the bipartisan, Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission to complete its purpose, there are additional concerns that the federal government will change contribution rates and impose mandates after state Medicaid expansion- creating greater stress on Virginia’s resources. We cannot indefinitely count on “free federal money” given the federal government is borrowing money from foreign countries (primarily China) at the rate of approximately $210,000,000.00 per hour or, $5,000,000,000.00 a day. When the federal government backs out of or reduces its share, Virginia will be responsible for as much as, or greater than, 1 billion per year in new spending- forcing the General Assembly to increase taxes or make significant spending cuts. After the recession, the state is struggling to restore prior cuts in public education; Chesapeake alone is operating with approximately $33,000,000.00 less than it was five or six years ago.
Another factor in this debate is that at least 50% of new enrollees under Medicaid expansion may now go on the exchange to obtain an insurance policy with a 100% or significant federal government subsidy. If a viable option with the federal government already exists, why reduce the federal government’s role and shift ultimate financial responsibility and unforeseen costs to the state?
Much of the medical community believes the quality of everyone’s health care will suffer under current proposed Medicaid expansion, even for those with private insurance. Canada may be an example of this- where the wealthiest of all go to a different country for care while the middle class and less fortunate are treated within the country. If you are interested in learning more about this issue, you should visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nk78JK-zR4 which features Dr. Juan Montero, a resident of Chesapeake, and a person who has spent his entire life helping the less fortunate by founding Chesapeake Care Free Medical Clinic, serving on the Board of Directors of Physicians for Peace, and who has participated in countless medical mission trips.
This is an extremely complicated issue with enormous fiscal ramifications and should not be adopted in similar fashion as the Affordable Care Act, also known as “ObamaCare,” i.e., many legislators never read the terms of the ACA before adopting it and previously unknown facts continually come to light. This is why Virginia, through bipartisan agreement, last year created the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (“MIRC”)- to ensure Virginia handles this issue with reliable information, careful analysis and reforms.
Anyone interested in communicating his or her opposition to expansion can do so by signing the online petition at www.passthebudgetterry.com or calling Governor McAuliffe’s office at 804-786-2211.
The General Assembly adjourned Saturday -- without a state budget.
Governor Terry McAuliffe and his allies in the Senate are refusing to pass a budget until Virginia expands Obamacare.
I strongly oppose Obamacare, but regardless of how you feel about that issue, holding hostage funding for our schools, colleges and universities and local governments is wrong.
Now, I need your help.
Governor McAuliffe is one of the most prolific political fundraisers in history. He is going to marshal the vast resources of the national Democratic Party to try and pressure us to accept Obamacare.
I need you to chip in $25, $50, $75 or whatever you can spare to help fight back. Please make checks payable to Leftwich for Delegate and mail them to 308 Cedar Lakes Drive, 2nd Floor, Chesapeake, VA 23322 or you may contribute at my website.
I also need you to sign this petition telling the Governor that you want Virginia to pass a clean budget.
Thank you for your support. Together, we can win this fight.
James "Jay" Leftwich, Jr.
Chesapeake's 78th House District.
Virginia Grain Producers Association
Annual $1,000.00 Scholarship
VGPA is awarding our annual $1,000.00 scholarship for a current or future full-time student (as of Fall 2014) at a Virginia institution of higher education. Applicants must be closely associated with members of the Virginia Grain Producers Association (VGPA), including: members (or dependents of a member) in good standing of the VGPA, or an active employee (or dependent of an active employee), employed at least one year, by a member in good standing of the VGPA.
Applications must be postmarked by April 1, 2014 so apply today!
For more information contact Ben Rowe Ben@VirginiaGrains.com
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WAKEFIELD VA
354 AM EST SUN MAR 2 2014
ISLE OF WIGHT-NEWPORT NEWS/HAMPTON-NORFOLK/PORTSMOUTH-SUFFOLK-
CHESAPEAKE-VIRGINIA BEACH-NORTHAMPTON VA-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...SOUTH HILL...CREWE...LAWRENCEVILLE...
354 AM EST SUN MAR 2 2014
...WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM MONDAY MORNING THROUGH
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN WAKEFIELD HAS ISSUED A WINTER
STORM WATCH...WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM MONDAY MORNING THROUGH
* AREAS AFFECTED: SOUTH CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST VIRGINIA.
* ACCUMULATIONS: POTENTIAL FOR 3 TO 4 INCHES OR MORE OF SNOW AND
SLEET ALONG WITH A LIGHT ICE ACCUMULATION.
* TEMPERATURES: FALLING BELOW FREEZING DURING THE LATE MORNING OR
EARLY AFTERNOON HOURS MONDAY...FALLING INTO THE MID TO UPPER
20S DURING THE MID AFTERNOON.
* WINDS: NORTH INCREASING TO 10 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 30 MPH
INLAND...AND INCREASING TO 20 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 35 MPH
NEAR THE COAST.
* TIMING: LATE MONDAY MORNING THROUGH MONDAY EVENING.
* IMPACTS: ANY RAIN EARLY MONDAY MORNING WILL TRANSITION TO A
BRIEF WINTRY MIXTURE OF SNOW...SLEET AND FREEZING RAIN DURING
THE LATE MORNING. THE WINTRY MIX MAY BECOME PRIMARILY SNOW
DURING THE LATER AFTERNOON AND EVENING HOURS. HAZARDOUS TRAVEL
RESULTING FROM ICY THEN SNOW COVERED ROADS IS EXPECTED BY LATE
MORNING MONDAY...WHICH WILL THEN CONTINUE THROUGH THE AFTERNOON
AND EVENING HOURS.
A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR SIGNIFICANT
SNOW...SLEET...OR ICE ACCUMULATIONS THAT MAY IMPACT TRAVEL.
CONTINUE TO MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS.