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.