With Medicaid expansion, the Commonwealth is now a major payer for healthcare services in Virginia. Along with this obligation comes the opportunity to shape treatment for the deadly chronic diseases that affect members of our district. Chronic lung disease, heart disease, and cancer are more common in the Northern Shenandoah Valley than in the rest of the Commonwealth and the rest of the United States and Medicaid recipients are likely to be affected. These diseases are difficult to treat, affect all aspects of the patient’s and family’s lives, and can be economically challenging as patients face expensive medications and many doctors visits. As your representative, I will advocate for legislation to reduce the impact of tobacco and other preventable causes of chronic disease and support the creation of Medicaid funded programs that encourage improved treatment for the victims of these deadly illnesses.

The Opioid Crisis

For nearly 10 years, the Northern Shenandoah Valley has been at the epicenter of the national opioid crisis, and the community response has been dramatic. The successes of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition in the prevention, education and treatment of substance abuse show what we can all achieve when diverse groups come together to solve difficult problems. Using the tools at the legislature’s disposal, I pledge to support these efforts through appropriate funding and expansion of services related to substance abuse and those who provide critical intervention.

Mental Health

As a Board member of the Northwestern Community Service Board I can attest to the great progress that has been made in the provision of behavioral health services in our district, especially in the area of substance abuse disorders and mental health. But even this documented expansion of services and the improvement in their quality cannot keep up with the immense need that exists in this area, especially with respect to the opioid addiction. We need to fund the ongoing expansion of behavioral health services, particularly for those with fewer economic resources.