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AARP Virginia applauds Governor Northam for vetoing health care bills

Red veto stamp in notepad
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RICHMOND —Governor Ralph Northam used his veto power today to stop three health care measures that would have had a calamitous impact on older and sicker Virginians, a legislative victory for health care consumers in the Commonwealth.

“We are tremendously grateful that Gov. Northam took action to stop legislation that would have negatively affected older people and could have caused the health care marketplace to become even more unstable in Virginia,” said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. “While AARP Virginia appreciates legislators’ efforts to increase access to healthcare for more Virginians, it would have been absolutely the wrong time to destabilize the individual health insurance market and undermine hard-fought consumer protections.”

Northam vetoed Senate Bill 861, Senate Bill 235, and House Bill 795. All three bills would have expanded access to Association Health Plans (AHPs). AARP opposes such plans because they would permit insurers to charge older people more than current law allows, amounting to an “age tax.” They also can discriminate based on occupation, geography, and other social factors. Research shows that AHPs would have almost no impact on increasing health coverage. However, AHPs can fragment the market, with younger, healthier people moving to the AHPs, leaving older or sicker people in traditional insurance plans, driving up their costs. Experts believe that it would cause older people and those with health conditions to have a difficult time finding affordable coverage.

Earlier this year, AARP Virginia called upon its members, volunteers, and activists to join others in urging Northam to veto the bills. Working on behalf of AARP and with other health care advocates, AARP Virginia’s volunteers helped amplify the concerns of health care consumers, sending hundreds of emails to Northam asking him to veto the bills.

“AARP Virginia’s fantastic volunteers joined their voices with others across the state to share their concerns, and we’re grateful that Gov. Northam listened,” added Dau.

AARP Virginia also welcomed Northam’s remarks conveying his administration’s intent to move forward with plans to expand health insurance access, including through the establishment of a state-based health insurance exchange and development of a reinsurance program.

“The Northam administration’s plans will expand access to meaningful health insurance and preserve important protections for people in every corner of Virginia,” said Dau.

With more than 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth.

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