Health Care and Behavioral Health Care

Jenn’s Perspective

Jenn knows that too many people are one accident or illness away from economic devastation. Jenn also knows that access to quality health care is out of reach for too many Virginians. The Coronavirus crisis has further exposed the disparities in our health care system and the strains on our health care safety nets. As a legislator, Jenn has fought to expand access to high quality, affordable health care, including preventative, reproductive, and mental health care.

As Governor, Jenn will continue to make access to a high-quality, affordable, comprehensive health care system available to everyone – from our newborn Virginians to those 50 and older- while also protecting the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship from undue government interference. Jenn will work to ensure that access to mental health and reproductive health resources are part of a comprehensive health care system.

Jenn’s Record

In the General Assembly, Jenn has worked tirelessly to address health care disparities and expand access to care and coverage for Virginians. Jenn has:

  • Created the Virginia Health Benefits Exchange under the Affordable Care Act, which will provide more affordable health insurance for approximately 300,000 Virginians
  • Led the fight for years to successfully expand Medicaid coverage to over 400,000 Virginians and has worked to expand services and reimbursement rates for providers
  • Worked to expand access to and lower the cost of prescription drugs and expand access to preventative, reproductive, behavioral, and long-term care for all Virginians while making the health care system easier to understand and navigate
  • Cosponsored legislation to improve health insurance coverage for families whose children have been diagnosed with autism 

As the first member of the House of Delegates to be pregnant while in office, Jenn has been a fierce advocate for protecting access to reproductive care and supports for new mothers. Jenn:

Over the course of her legislative career, Jenn has emphasized the need for increased investment, destigmatization and decriminalization of mental health. In the General Assembly, Jenn:

  • Supported the creation, implementation, and $5.3 million dollars in funding for the STEP- VA program designed to improve the quality of community behavioral services in 2017; and an additional $30.2 million for fiscal year 2022 for  STEP-VA, to address Accountability, Access, Quality, and Consistency across all Community Services Boards (CSBs) and to enable CSBs statewide to deliver, at a minimum, nine standard services plus care 
  • Patroned a landmark justice reform bill that will make the criminal justice system more equitable for individuals with mental illness, autism, or developmental/intellectual disabilities by allowing evidence of their conditions to be presented during hearings
  • Patroned legislation directing the Board of Education to review and update the Standards of Learning for students to include mental health
  • Supported $1.6 million in funding to establish the Behavioral Health Loan Repayment Program to help increase behavioral health providers by coordinated efforts to recruit and retain providers in the Commonwealth 

Jenn’s Vision

As Governor, Jenn will continue to make access to a high quality, affordable, comprehensive health care system available to all Virginians. In Jenn’s vision for the future comprehensive care includes breaking down barriers so access reproductive health care and mental health care. 

Jenn will: 

  • Close access gaps for areas of Virginia that don’t have providers by expanding telehealth options and look at expanding scope of practice
  • Coordinate care that considers social inequities and a path to provide wrap-around services for needed additional resources outside of health care services 
  • Implement the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange to improve access, lower premiums and improve efficiency of health care for Virginians
  • Address the disproportionate impacts of maternal mortality for women of color
  • Invest in bias and cultural training for health care providers and work to increase diversity in the health provider workforce
  • Breaking down barriers to care and resources for Veterans including  providing mental health resources for the suicide epidemic among our veterans
  • Reform Virginia’s mental health care system with a comprehensive plan to break down barriers to accessing mental health care and ensure it is part of coordinated care with our health care system
  • Protect the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationships from undue government interference
  • Protect reproductive health care and expand access to care – ensuring that every Virginian can afford and access the reproductive care they need
  • Pass a constitutional amendment to enshrine the principles of Roe v. Wade
  • Focus on Early Intervention, Prevention, and Wellness across the Lifespan
  • Continue building and Strengthening Trauma-Informed Crisis System and Comprehensive Continuum of Care
  • Improve accountability, quality, and oversight within the behavioral health system
  • Work to destigmatize substance addiction while combating the opioid epidemic and making treatment more widely available
  • Strengthen the mental health workforce
  •  Make equity a driving force of state mental health funding and other resources (i.e. direct agencies to adopt needs based funding formulas in allocating funds to communities/localities)

Click here to read Jenn’s comprehensive Health Care and Behavioral Health Plan