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Byron Introduces Bill on Affordable Care Act Print

BY: ALEX ROHR The Lynchburg News & Advance

CREATED: Wednesday, February 8, 2017

RICHMOND — Del. Kathy Byron can't wait to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Toward that end, Byron, R-Bedford, introduced legislation that would require Virginia law to automatically revert to pre-ACA insurance regulations if the Republican-controlled Congress and President Donald Trump repeal former President Barack Obama's signature healthcare initiative. Byron's HB 2411 passed the House of Delegates on a party-line 64-33 vote Tuesday and will now be considered by the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

"It would take us back as if we're just turning the clock back to an earlier time," Byron, chairwoman of Virginia's Health Insurance Reform Commission, said on Wednesday.

After the ACA became federal law, state legislators enacted statutes to meet its requirements. If that act is repealed before the 2018 General Assembly and HB 2411 passes, legislators would not have to return to Richmond for a special session to re-regulate insurance plans, Byron said.

"If they don't repeal anything, it doesn't repeal anything in the commonwealth. If it does, it gives us the flexibility to react quickly and to offer changes within our plan," Byron said in a floor speech Monday. "... If they keep some things in place, those things will still stay within our code."  If only part of the ACA is repealed, only corresponding state legislation would be reverted, Byron said.

Democrats challenged Byron on the floor Monday, saying Virginia would be best served by waiting for action from Washington as to whether the ACA will be repealed, replaced or repaired. "This bill makes no more sense than a bill to expand Medicaid at this time," said Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, referring to a multi-year partisan argument in which Democrats tried to expand Medicaid in Virginia under the ACA. "We've got to find out what Washington's going to do before we go down this road." Hope is a member of the Joint Commission on Health Care, a bipartisan commission that makes recommendations to the General Assembly regarding healthcare.

Minority Leader David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, said on Monday such "an elaborate reconstruction" should come from a special work group or commission.

A full regulatory rewrite would be eventually necessary, but legislators should move now, Byron said. Every member of the House of Delegates is up for reelection in November. "If you want to go back during your campaign time, instead of debating your opponent, and work on rewriting this, then we can certainly do that," Byron said