Sixth-Grade Girls Still Must Get HPV Vaccine in Virginia

By Alex Wiggins and Pia Talwar – Capital News Service

RICHMOND – The Virginia Senate has rejected a House-approved bill to repeal a law requiring girls to get a dose of the human papillomavirus vaccine before entering sixth grade.

The Senate voted 22-17 to send House Bill 1112 back to the Senate Education and Health Committee, effectively killing it for this legislative session.
The bill’s sponsor, Delegate Kathy Byron, R-Lynchburg, has said that the General Assembly acted hastily in 2007 in passing the law mandating the HPV vaccine. She says that the vaccine has not been adequately tested and that parents should decide whether their children should get the vaccine.
About half of sexually active people will get HPV during their lifetime. It is a leading cause of cervical cancer in women and genital warts in men and women.

“I am extraordinarily glad that the commonwealth will continue to immunize young people against this deadly disease,” said Sen. Barbara Favola, D-Arlington.

“In the past, the most successful immunization programs, such as those for smallpox or polio, required universal vaccination. Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the world, but with this vaccination, there is hope for ending the suffering caused by cervical cancer.”

The HPV vaccine comes in three doses. Virginia requires girls to receive the first dose before entering sixth grade. The current law has a liberal opt-out clause: Parents can choose not to have their daughters vaccinated after reviewing materials from the Virginia Board of Health describing the link between HPV and cervical cancer.

Virginia was the first state to adopt such a law. The District of Columbia has a similar mandate.

HB 1112 was co-sponsored by Delegate Timothy Hugo of Centreville and six other Republicans. While Republicans generally supported the legislation to rescind the HPV vaccination law, Democrats strongly opposed it.
Democratic Delegate Joe Morrissey of Highland Springs said he was “pleased that the Senate chose to effectively kill this legislation for this year, and it is my hope that the lives of young women will continue to be saved as a result.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that both girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 12 get the vaccine to protect them from HPV.

HB 1112 was approved by the House, 62-34, on Jan. 27. Last Thursday, the Senate Committee on Education and Health voted 8-7 in favor of the bill after modifying the legislation: The committee’s version said the Board of Health would give parents information about HPV and the vaccine, and the parent “may then choose whether to have such child receive three doses of properly spaced human papillomavirus vaccine.”

However, the full Senate then voted to send the bill back to the committee until 2013.

 

Florida Judge Expands on Virginia Ruling That Health Care Bill is Unconstitutional

Today Florida federal Judge Roger Vinson ruled that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional. In his ruling on the challenge brought by 26 states, Judge Vinson found, “…because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void.” Judge Vinson also noted, “The individual mandate exceeds Congress’ commerce power, as it is understood, defined, and applied in the existing Supreme Court case law.”

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell commented on the ruling today saying, “Judge Vinson’s ruling is yet another strike against the individual mandate specifically, and the entire federal health care law generally. For the second time in as many months, a federal judge has found that Congress exceeded its constitutional authority by mandating that citizens of this nation purchase a commercial product or else face a penalty.”

Virginia Judge Henry Hudson reached a similar conclusion in his December ruling on the Commonwealth’s challenge to the Act. However, Judge Vinson’s decision today goes one step further. The Florida Judge also ruled that the individual mandate component is not severable from the overall Act in which it is contained, meaning that this one unconstitutional provision renders the entire bill void.

Stephanie Cutter, Assistant to the President and Deputy Senior White House Advisor said, “Today’s ruling – issued by Judge Vinson in the Northern District of Florida – is a plain case of judicial overreaching. The judge’s decision contradicts decades of Supreme Court precedent that support the considered judgment of the democratically elected branches of government that the Act’s ‘individual responsibility’ provision is necessary to prevent billions of dollars of cost-shifting every year by individuals without insurance who cannot pay for the health care they obtain.”

She also emphatically declared that, “We don’t believe this kind of judicial activism will be upheld and we are confident that the Affordable Care Act will ultimately be declared constitutional by the courts.”

The divided opinions have set the stage for what could be a landmark constitutional debate in the higher courts, with a final decision expected in the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps as soon as next year.

Lagging Technology Hamstrings County Managers

310409_laptopMonday’s Joint Administrative Services meeting agenda held a seemingly innocuous footnote under the heading “Summer Projects.” The item was titled “Extend Financial System Access.” As surprising as it may seem in the year 2010, many Clarke County department heads do not have real-time access to budget and financial information necessary to make decisions about resource allocations. Some of the roadblocks include unsolved firewall problems, unreliable web connections, obsolete software, and continued delays in extending the school’s broadband access to Boyce Elementary. Potentially large, unspecified software upgrade costs combined with no clear plan for moving forward means that technical challenges will continue to plague county staff and administrators for the near future.

“Real-time access to budget information and the ability to move funding is very important,” Clarke County Superintendent Dr. Michael Murphy told the other members of the JAS committee. “Access is especially important when we are being asked to do more with fewer resources.”

The JAS committee includes JAS Director Tom Judge, Supervisor Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville), School Board Chairperson Robina Bouffault (White Post), Clarke County Treasurer Sharon Keeler, County Administrator David Ash, and Superintendent Murphy.

Judge told the committee that County technical staff had been preoccupied over the past several months with a series of time consuming tasks that included relocating County servers and installation of fiber optic cable. While the goal is to provide real-time access for managers to the County’s financial systems Judge conceded that the service had not been reliable.

“We’ve had difficulty getting access out to the users and keeping it available” Judge said. “We’ve just had one pitfall after the next.”

Access to financial information is considered a fundamental and necessary management tool by most organizations and corporations. Access to budget and finance  systems provides important information about current account balances, purchase orders, disbursement approval and the ability to establish budget priorities by reallocating funds. Such fundamental tools are unavailable to the school system, the sheriff’s office and other essential government entities.

School officials have attributed a large portion of unspent school budgets in recent years to difficulties associated with obtaining reliable fund level reports.

During the course of the discussion it became clear that Chairman Hobert’s sense of urgency for developing a plan to address the various hardware and software challenges facing the County wasn’t initially shared by all members of the committee. While Hobert’s suggestion that the JAS dedicate its next meeting solely to understanding the scope of the County’s technical challenges was quickly embraced, various scheduling conflicts were offered as reasons for not reconvening until late in August.

Hobert quickly dispensed the scheduling obstacles saying “First of all, I’m not pleased that we can’t meet sooner. This is a priority and we need to get back together on it sooner than that.” Hobert’s persistence resulted in agreement by committee members to reconvene on June 21 at noon.

The technical challenges facing the JAS are complex and it may prove be difficult to resist the urge to chase a single solution for all of the County’s technical woes. Several commercial software vendors offer comprehensive county government software solutions accompanied by huge price tags. Informal price inquiries have produced cost estimates of several hundred thousand dollars for upgrading the County’s existing software which Judge characterized as “functional and cheap”.

“Vendors want a lot of money to translate the data in our existing system to a new software platform,” Judge cautioned. “With financial times the way they are sticking with a Yugo may be the best option. Everyone is open to looking at new solutions but it comes down to a question money and budget priorities.”

Judge told the committee that there had been previous budget requests for a substantial software upgrade with a new vendor that web client accessible. “Our goal should be a system where a common desktop web browser can access all of our systems like personnel, finance and GIS,” Judge said.

While shared access to data provides efficiencies, it also carries risks. Currently Clarke County citizen data resides in many different locations. For example, information as basic as citizen addresses is entered separately for common government uses like building permits, tax recordation and voter registration. There have been a number of instances in recent years where financial and personal data has been stolen or inadvertently lost by government and commercial institutions. Web-savvy citizens have become increasingly sensitive to the issues surrounding access to personal information. Some may even argue that centralized data collection offers both advantages and risks.

Defining Clarke County’s policies for handling citizen data and related topics may make solving the technical challenges seem simple in comparison.

Sparks Fly Over School Board Fire Flow Discussion

Last night Clarke County School Board chairperson, Robina Bouffault touched off a fire-storm over fire flow. Bouffault’s fire flow proposal, intended to open procurement consideration for a less expensive, off-the-shelf fire flow alternative to the custom designed system being requested by the Town of Berryville, was dead-on-arrival.

At issue is the continuing disagreement between Bouffault and the Berryville Town Council over sharing the construction expense, and possibly ownership, of a fire flow pumping station necessary in order to build the new school. The Town of Berryville has already approved an engineering plan for the pumping station as well as offered to build, operate and maintain the system as a shared utility between the new school and the Town. The custom plan favored by the Town was designed by engineering firm PHR&A and has a price tag of $480K.6493_fire_hydrant_2

Bouffault believes that the same level of protection can be obtained using a pre-fabricated fire flow system costing only $189K.

“I don’t want to have to spend $200K more than we need to at the expense of the building fund,” Bouffault said. “The Town wants us to spend an additional $200K that we will not have anything to show for. This is saving $200K for the taxpayers.”

Bouffault presented her case to the School Board in a 19-page justification of the pre-fabricated fire flow approach. Bouffault’s document included a 6-page proposed utility construction cost sharing agreement between the School Board the Town of Berryville.

The meeting’s tenor turned contentious when School Board member Jennifer Welliver (Berryville) challenged Bouffault’s suggestion that the draft agreement be immediately forwarded to the Town for consideration. The discussion quickly lapsed into a series of accusations and incriminations.

“I’d like to discuss the document because I have some suggested changes,” Welliver said. Bouffault asked why Welliver was raising questions at the meeting given that School Board members had previously received the document through electronic mail and had not replied with changes. Welliver contended that the document had never been discussed in a public forum and that electronic mail was not a substitute for public deliberation. Welliver then proposed that the School Board members go through the agreement clause-by-clause.

As Welliver began to suggest changes to the agreement Bouffault pre-empted the discussion by asking whether either Welliver or School Board member Janet Alger (Russell) had any legal training that qualified them to make changes to the document. Welliver replied that she didn’t need to be a lawyer to know that the Town Of Berryville would never accept the agreement as presented in Bouffault’s draft document. Bouffault took issue with Welliver’s comment by asking if Welliver had “inside-information” that the Town Council would not accept the agreement.

Welliver replied, “No, but I wouldn’t accept as it’s written, so I don’t know why the Town would”.

The School Board later resolved to outsource its communication dysfunction by directing attorney Joe Luchini to contact Town of Berryville land use attorney Ken Wire to see if an agreement could be reached.

Joseph S. Luchini, partner Reed Smith, practice includes representation of owners, general contractors subcontractors, and bonding companies in both state and federal courts and before arbitration panels - Photo courtesy Reed Smith website

Joseph S. Luchini, partner Reed Smith, practice includes representation of owners, general contractors subcontractors, and bonding companies in both state and federal courts and before arbitration panels - Photo courtesy Reed Smith website

Kenneth W. Wire, associate at McGuire Woods, assists clients in all aspects of the development review and approval process, including due diligence preparation, zoning and site plan approvals, and obtaining special use permits and variances - Photo courtesy McGuire Woods website

Kenneth W. Wire, associate at McGuire Woods, assists clients in all aspects of the development review and approval process, including due diligence preparation, zoning and site plan approvals, and obtaining special use permits and variances - Photo courtesy McGuire Woods website

“Let’s have the attorneys work out the differences. Reaching an agreement is in the best interest of both parties so let the attorneys resolve it,” said School Board Member Emily Rhodes (Buckmarsh).

Despite the best efforts of legal counsel it seems doubtful that Bouffault’s proposal will be given new life by the Town of Berryville. The Town has already voted its support in favor of the PHR&A plan and Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton expressed frustration after the meeting with what he sees as a last-minute and unsupported comparison between Bouffault’s Flowtronics fire flow proposal and the PHR&A design.

“The Flowtronics document is really just a price quote from a salesperson,” Dalton said. “The real costs and design requirements aren’t reflected in their [Flowtronics] cost estimate.”

Dalton also pointed out that the Flowtronics price quote does not include emergency power generation (estimated at $53K in the PHR&A design) or an independent water storage tank that will be needed should the School Board decide to build a facility independently from the Town.

“Berryville’s water storage is a critical system and is too important to ever allow an independent organization to tap into,” Dalton said. “After significant deliberation the Town of Berryville approved the PHR&A design because it meets the needs of the community. The PHR&A fire flow facility was designed for the school, it meets the site plan requirements, and the bid documents are ready to go. We’re now being asked to go back and spend more time and money on engineers. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Welliver questioned the financial wisdom of procuring the fire flow system independently from the Town. “With the Flowtronics plan we spend $189K plus engineering costs, but then we’ll still have ongoing maintenance costs.” Under the PHR&A plan the Town of Berryville assumes all operating and maintenance costs for the facility. Ongoing operating and maintenance costs would be paid for from the school budget if an independent school facility is built.

Jennifer Welliver says that, for her, it isn’t about whose plan is ultimately implemented. “I want to do everything that I can to make sure that we operate in good faith with the Town and that we get what is best for the community. I really dislike playing politics on these issues.”

As of last night, the School Board was holding out hope that the Luchini-Wire legal team can hammer out a compromise agreement in time for the Berryville Town Council’s May 5th meeting.

Virginia Sewage Funding Flows into Berryville

“I hope that people realize just how close the new waste water treatment plant was from not happening,” Ward Three Council Member, Mary Daniel said at Wednesday morning’s Berryville Town Council meeting. “If that had happened it would have been very bad for our citizens and for the Shenandoah River.”

The Berryville Town Council unanimously approved spending $21.8M this morning for  construction  of  a new wastewater treatment plan and an additional $1.3M for a  wastewater outfall line to discharge treated effluent into the Shenandoah River. Project funding was made possible through a $11.75M loan guarantee from the Virginia Resources Authority and a $12.1M grant from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Town water and sewer  rates are expected to spurt  upwards to $17/thousand gallons to cover the costs of the new treatment plant.

The Virginia Water Quality Improvement Act of 1997 was enacted by the Virginia General Assembly to finance nutrient reduction strategies for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Under the Act, Virginia established the “Virginia Water Quality Improvement Fund” to assist local governments like Berryville in reducing point source nutrient loads to the Chesapeake Bay (http://www.deq.virginia.gov/bay/wqif.html).
Tucker Conaboy, Vice President for Caldwell & Santmyer, (left) speaks with Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton and Town Council Member Mary Daniel (Ward Three Council Member)

Tucker Conaboy, Vice President for Caldwell & Santmyer, (left) speaks with Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton and Town Council Member Mary Daniel (Ward Three Council Member)

Yet, as  recently seen  across the board in other Commonwealth-funded programs, Berryville’s VWQIF grant faced last minute cuts due to declining tax revenues and Virginia’s economic downturn. “The Department of Environmental Quality asked us if we could still build the wastewater treatment facility if funding reduced,” said Berryville Town Manager, Keith Dalton. “I made it clear to Richmond that Berryville could not move forward without the grant.”

Apparently, at times, Richmond  does listen when  rural municipalities speak.

Dalton’s dialogue with the DEQ resulted in Berryville being included as one of nine state-wide “hardship grantees” thus  avoiding a project-stopping 25% funding reduction being administered to other DEQ grant recipients across Virginia. “The great news here is that the $12.1M grant funding cannot be reduced. It also means that Berryville avoids a $3M grant reduction that would have killed the project,” Dalton said.

With funding secured the Town Council voted unanimously to award R.L. Rider & Co. of Warrenton with the outfall line contract and then selected Caldwell & Santmyer, Inc. of Berryville to build the wastewater treatment facility.

“This is a very meaningful award for us” Caldwell & Santmyer Vice President Tucker Canoby said. “In the past we have focused more on government projects like public schools. This project is part of a strategic move into wastewater treatment for us.”

According to Canoby, Caldwell & Santmyer employs about 30 people at its offices on Enders Boulevard in Berryville and has constructed approximately 15 schools in Loudoun County and two elementary schools in Jefferson County.

When asked if Caldwell & Santmyer will be bidding on the future Clarke County High School project Canoby replied, “We’ll see.”

Town Council Approves $11.75 Million Bond, Sewer Rates Will Climb to $17.00

On Thursday March 25th the Berryville Town council held a late afternoon special session to consider the bond resolution to borrow $11.75 million to secure the final funds necessary to begin construction of the new municipal sewage treatment plant. This step in the project represents the line of demarcation between planning and actual construction. Once these funds are secured construction proposals will be converted into contracts. Since the entire funding scenario for the project hinges on the loan that   The Virginia Resources Authority (VRA) is providing, there was little left to decide in the matter, however the council did need to review some of the conditions of the loan  before they could put the measure to a vote.

berryvill-council-meeting2First and foremost VRA required the town to adopt a “Business Plan” that will demonstrate that the town’s Sewer Fund will have sufficient funding to meet the loan obligations. This plan was presented to the council by town manager Keith Dalton, and it revealed the first solid usage rate numbers, which require significant increases.

The rate study was prepared by Chester Engineering on behalf of the town and shows that once the new waste water treatment plant is operating and the town is making loan payments, the sewer rate will need to be at $16.73/1000 gallons of usage to cover the sewer fund expenses ( a 52% increase from the current rate of $11.00/1000 gallons of usage). To reach this level the town plans to adopt a phased approach to rate increases. Each year for the next four years, the town will raise sewer rate $1.50 per 1000 gallons usage until they reach the $17.00 mark. The schedule would be as follows:

  • July 2010 $1.50 to $12.50 an increase of 13.6%
  • July 2011 $1.50 to $14.00 an increase of 12%
  • July 2012 $1.50 to $15.50 an increase of 10.7%
  • July 2013 $1.50 to $17.00 an increase of 9.6%

Town Manager Keith Dalton was quick to point out that the financial model for the Sewer Fund does not include any availability fees typically charged for new construction. This strategy will repay the loan completely with usage fees.

“What we need to remember when we’re talking about the rate being $16.73 is that all of this is based on the only income for the Sewer Fund coming from user fees.” Dalton explained, “When this project was planned and when the availability fees were set, we all knew that a portion of this plant and a portion of the out fall line were going to be built with availability fees. That income has disappeared.”

Dalton did point out that if availability fees generate revenue in the future, fee increases could be reduced or eliminated.

The final vote required a role call and one by one each council member that was present voted to approve the resolution.

Since the building industry is unlikely to rebound in the next 3 years, future rate hikes are now a near certainty.

Governor McDonnell Signs Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act Legislation

_N4O1651Governor Bob McDonnell signed the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act in a mid-afternoon ceremony today in Richmond. He was joined at the bill signing by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Senators Steve Martin, Fred Quayle, and Jill Vogel and Delegate Bob Marshall. Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel also participated in the event. The signing ceremony was held in the Governor’s Cabinet conference room in the Patrick Henry Building on Capitol Square.

Speaking about the Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act, Governor McDonnell noted, “We all agree that we must expand access to quality health care and reduce costs for all Virginians. However, that should not be accomplished through an unprecedented federal mandate on individuals that we believe violates the U.S. Constitution. The Virginia Healthcare Freedom Act sets as the policy of the Commonwealth that no individual, with several specific exceptions, can be required to purchase health insurance coverage. The Act was passed with bipartisan support, in sharp contrast to the narrow straight line partisan vote that enacted the federal health care bill on Sunday night. Virginia’s Healthcare Freedom Act received the votes of leading Democratic Senators, as well as the Democratic House Minority Leader. It was an important step to sign this bipartisan legislation today.”

The Governor continued, “The states have long been leaders in identifying and implementing innovative policies to expand access to, and improve the affordability of, healthcare coverage. Virginia will continue to play that important role. We will do this through promoting incentives for the purchase of long term care and individual medical savings accounts, focusing on preventative health and combating obesity, studying our medical delivery systems with the objective of reforming them to work better for our citizens, expanding free clinics and aggressively finding new ways to reduce the cost of our Medicaid system, which has already grown 1600% in the past 25 years. There are fiscally responsible ways by which we can reform healthcare and expand quality coverage that do not involve the forcing of unfunded and unprecedented mandates onto individuals and states, and the unsustainable growing of our national debt.”

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli commented, “Virginians spoke loudly and clearly in rallies, in town halls, and at the ballot box about their opposition to the new federal health care law. The governor and both Democrats and Republicans in the General Assembly heard them, and as a result, the Virginia Health Care Freedom Act is being signed today.”

The Attorney General added, “The traditional role of the attorney general is to defend Virginia’s laws. It is now my job to vigorously defend this law from the federal government’s overreach of the Constitution and its attempted encroachment on the rights of Virginians. That is my mandate, and that is my promise to our citizens.”

The bills signed ceremonially today by the Governor were SB283, SB311, SB417 and HB10. HB 10 will be amended to reflect the previously enacted changes to the Senate bills.

Virginia Attorney General Files Suit Against Federal Government

As expected, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has filed suit in   the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against the Federal Government contesting the Constitutionality of the Health Care Reform Bill.

“The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia will move forward with our lawsuit against the federal government and its unconstitutional overreach of its authority with the passage of the federal health care bill.”

Below are video clips provided by the OAG outlining the rational behind the suit.


Statement from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli after the U.S. House of Representatives’ passage of the Senate’s health care bill:

“The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia will move forward with our lawsuit against the federal government and its unconstitutional overreach of its authority with the passage of the federal health care bill.   We will file our complaint with the court as soon as the president signs it into law.

“With this law, the federal government will force citizens to buy health insurance, claiming it has the authority to do so because of its power to regulate interstate commerce.   We contend that if a person decides not to buy health insurance, that person – by definition – is not engaging in commerce, and therefore, is not subject to a federal mandate.

“Virginia is in a unique situation that allows it the standing to file such a suit since Virginia is the only state so far to pass a law protecting its citizens from a government-imposed mandate to buy health insurance.  The health care reform bill, with its insurance mandate, creates a conflict of laws between the federal government and Virginia.   Normally, such conflicts are decided in favor of the federal government, but because we believe the federal law is unconstitutional, Virginia’s law should prevail.

“Just being alive is not interstate commerce.   If it were, there would be no limit to the U.S. Constitution’s commerce clause and to Congress’s authority to regulate everything we do.   There has never been a point in our history where the federal government has been given the authority to require citizens to buy goods or services.

“While we believe the health care reform bill the House just voted on suffers from constitutional problems, we do want to thank Speaker Pelosi for not trying to enact the bill through the questionable “deem and pass”  procedure.  By requiring an up-or-down vote on the Senate bill, she is living up to the letter of Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution.   As someone who is sworn to protect the Constitution, she did the right thing in that regard.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled in other cases that Congress cannot regulate non-commercial activities.   In United States v. Lopez (1995) and United States v. Morrison (2000), the Supreme Court struck down attempts to regulate non-commercial activities based upon their predicted effects on interstate commerce because those attempts went beyond the outer limits of the Commerce Clause.

The suit will be filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.

Census Forms Are Out – Beware of Scams

2010CensusHandBy now the majority of us have received our census forms in the mail. Every ten years our nation expends a tremendous effort to attempt to enumerate the citizens of our country. To many this represents a civic duty in order to facilitate the allocation of representatives in government, but to other it is simply an opportunity to con innocent people. Knowing what to expect during this census is your best defense against opportunistic crooks and scams.

The Census Bureau uses a workforce of trained federal employees to conduct a variety of household and business surveys by telephone, in-person interviews, through the mail, and in limited cases through the Internet. If you are contacted for any of the following reasons — Do Not Participate. It is NOT the U.S. Census Bureau.

Phishing:
‘Phishing’ is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, bank account or credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out by email and it often directs users to enter sensitive information at a fake web site whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.

Other Scams:

  • The Census Bureau does NOT conduct the 2010 Census via the Internet
  • The Census Bureau does not send emails about participating in the 2010

Census The Census Bureau never:

  • Asks for your full social security number
  • Asks for money or a donation
  • Sends requests on behalf of a political party
  • Requests PIN codes, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

If you believe you have been contacted as part of bogus or fraudulent activity falsely representing the Census Bureau:

If You Believe It Is An In Person Scam

  • Check for a valid Census ID badge
  • Call your regional office to verify you are in a survey

For Email Scams

  • If you think it is a bogus email, do not reply or click on any links within the email.
  • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain code that could infect your computer
  • Forward the email or web site URL to the Census Bureau at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov.
  • After you forward the email to us, delete the message. You will not receive a confirmation email after forwarding the information to us. However, the Census Bureau will investigate the information and notify you of its findings.

For Mail Scams

  • Contact the United States Postal Inspection Service

Is your survey legitimate?

You may further verify if a collection activity is legitimate by calling your regional census office regarding mail surveys, and the National Processing Center for phone surveys. Other questions may be answered through our Are You In a Survey? page.

The best way to protect yourself from Census con-artists is to educate yourself on the process that the Census Bureau uses. For more information go to http://www.census.gov.

Virginia Governor Blasts Federal Healthcare Bill

governor-mcdonnellGovernor Bob McDonnell waded into the fray regarding the   federal health care bill passed by the United States House of Representatives and, not surprisingly, he is not pleased.

“Expanding access to reasonably priced quality healthcare is a bipartisan goal. We all agree that we must make it easier for Americans to purchase and retain health insurance.

However, this massive and complex piece of legislation allows the federal government to exercise control over one-sixth of the United States economy. The continued intrusion of this Congress into the free enterprise system, and the placing of new mandates on states, is shocking to the American system of federalism. Most disconcerting is the provision mandating that every American must purchase health insurance or face a monetary penalty. This is an unprecedented expansion of federal power. It is hard to imagine our Founder’s agreeing that the United States Constitution permits Congress to mandate the purchase of a good or service under penalty of law. Just a few days ago I approved a bill, passed on a bipartisan basis, which prohibits mandatory insurance purchases for Virginians. Virginia’s Attorney General has rightly chosen to challenge the constitutionality of the federal mandate. I anticipate that he will be joined by a number of other states. The issues raised by Attorney General Cuccinelli require a full and prompt review by the judicial branch.

While individuals face a mandate in this legislation, so too do the states. The proposed expansion of Medicaid is an historic unfunded federal mandate on the states. This expansion will put at least 400,000 more individuals on Virginia’s Medicaid rolls. The Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services has estimated that it will cost the Commonwealth an additional $1.1 billion by 2022. Virginia, and the other 49 states, will bear the financial burden of one of the biggest unfunded mandates in the history of our nation. This will have a significant and unavoidable impact on the bottom line of our state budget, and the general fiscal welfare of Virginia. We simply cannot afford this expansion.

The bill will cut over $500 billion from Medicare, and may reduce the quality of the care our seniors depend upon. The Medicare system is already underfunded and overburdened. This legislation only exacerbates the problems facing the system.

This legislation will raise taxes on individuals and businesses. Our small business owners, who generate nearly 98% of the new jobs in Virginia, will see their taxes go up. This will occur at the same time that federal tax cuts from the early part of last decade expire. We will face significantly higher federal taxes at a time when we need to be keeping taxes low and freeing capital for job creation and economic development. It can also be anticipated that Virginians’ insurance premiums will increase in the years ahead after passage of this legislation.

I am further disappointed that a bill so massive in size is so limited in its approach. Congressional Republicans were right to call for allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines, and this provision should have been included in the bill.

States have long been leaders in the effort to identify and implement innovative healthcare solutions. Regardless of the future of this legislation, we must continue to play that important role in our federal system. In Virginia we will promote incentives for the purchase of long term care, and promote individual medical savings accounts. We will focus on preventative health and combating obesity. We will study our medical delivery systems with the objective of reforming them to work better for our citizens. Free clinics are an important piece of the coverage equation, and I will look for ways by which the Commonwealth can help with the expansion of these important facilities. We will be aggressive in finding every way by which we can reduce the cost of our Medicaid system, which has already grown 1600% in the past 25 years. It is unsustainable.

Every American should have the opportunity to purchase good quality healthcare coverage. But we will not improve our healthcare system by implementing a massive one-size fits all federal policy that dramatically increases the deficit, puts unprecedented mandates on states and individuals, and jeopardizes the good coverage most citizens already have. I am disappointed in the passage of this bill, and I thank the bipartisan majority of Virginia’s congressional delegation for voting against it.”

via Governor Robert F. McDonnell