Virginia Healthcare Legislative Update

During the recent 2011 General Assembly session, many pieces of new legislature were passed affecting healthcare, and in particular physicians.  It is hopeful that these reforms will assist in ensuring the stability of the Virginia medical practice climate so that patients can have access to the care they need when they need it.  Some of the key achievements for physicians throughout the commonwealth include: 

  • Passage of landmark legislation on the medical malpractice cap – These bills stabilize Virginia’s medical malpractice cap for the next 20 years by raising it by $50,000 increments beginning in 2012.
  • Establishing protections for privileged information – These bills provide needed clarification about the privilege and discoverability of incident reports and quality assurance documents following the 2006 Virginia Supreme Court case Johnson v. Riverside. The bills specify that facts included in a patient’s medical record and incident reports are discoverable in litigation. The deliberative process, opinions, and reports of expert witnesses retained by peer review or quality assurance committees will be privileged information, not subject to discovery.
  • Securing pre-emptive protections for physicians’ licensure – This bill specifies that physicians cannot be required to participate in third-party reimbursement programs as a condition of licensure.
  • Supporting a collaborative team approach to health care – Physicians did not face any major scope of practice expansions sought by other providers. The Medical Society of Virginia and the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners issued a joint statement, agreeing to work together to pursue an agreement that outlines a team-based health care model.  
  • Eliminating cuts to Medicaid provider rates – The legislative session concluded with the news that the General Assembly was able to eliminate the scheduled four percent cut to Medicaid provider rates for physicians.

*Source – Medical Society of Virginia.  For more information, please visit www.msv.org

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