Four new Virginia laws just took effect that could help your health

(AP photo/Bebeto Matthews)

By Carolyn Fiddler

January 3, 2024

In Virginia, most new statutes go into effect on July 1 of any given year, coinciding with the state’s fiscal year. But most years also see a few straggler laws take effect on Jan. 1, and 2024 is one of them.

One new statute that will benefit many Virginians requires health insurers to cover the cost of hearing aids and related services for those 18 years old and younger, when recommended by a specialist. Insurers must cover new devices every two years for each impaired ear; costs are capped at $1,500.

The measure was championed by a Virginia Beach family whose son has bilateral hearing loss. When they first took the 8-year-old to get hearing aids, they realized that the devices weren’t covered by health insurance. His mom Crystal began talking with state lawmakers about the issue, and her son traveled to Richmond to advocate for the bill as it was being considered by the General Assembly.

“It’s very important for children to have access to hearing aids, so that they have the appropriate speech and language development at the milestones that they should reach them at,” said Crystal Dupilka.

Another new healthcare-related law requires health insurance providers to give patients six months’ advance notice before dropping their doctors from their plans. Additionally, in specific circumstances, insurers will be required to continue covering visits to those doctors to ensure continuity of care. For example, patients with life-threatening conditions will be able to continue seeing their physician for up to 180 days, and pregnant patients could continue seeing their doctor through the postpartum period.

Another new law will help ease the shortage of mental healthcare providers by allowing Virginia to join a 20-state compact granting reciprocal licenses to counselors from other participating states.

The new year also marks a shift in oversight of Virginia’s medical cannabis program, moving it from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority. The VCCA will manage retail sales of medical marijuana (and, should the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes ever be legalized in the commonwealth, it will oversee that, too); the pharmacy board will continue to control the licensing of healthcare providers eligible to prescribe medical weed.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

CATEGORIES: HEALTHCARE | POLITICS

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