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by Ethan Rothstein — September 9, 2014 at 10:45 am 567 0

Terry McAuliffe campaigns at Washington-Lee High SchoolGov. Terry McAuliffe (D) plans to help more than 200,000 Virginians without health insurance secure coverage, he announced yesterday in a move that follows the defeat of Medicaid expansion in the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

McAuliffe unveiled a 10-point plan through which the majority of the newly covered — about 160,000 — will get assistance signing up for via the federal Affordable Care Act. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has approved $4.3 million for outreach to help eligible individuals sign up, McAuliffe announced.

The plan includes measures to provide more and better care to those with mental illnesses, give dental care to pregnant women on Medicaid and FAMIS and launch a website “to inform Virginians of their coverage options and help them enroll,” among other platforms.

“As governor, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the health and safety of the citizens you serve,” McAuliffe said in a statement. “Through my plan, I am taking action by authorizing four emergency regulations and issuing one executive order that will address urgent health needs and put us on a pathway toward Building a New Virginia Economy. However, these steps are just the beginning, and we must continue to press forward together to achieve better health for all of our citizens.”

Republican Party of Virginia spokesman Garrett Shipley told The Washington Post that McAuliffe’s plan is insufficient.

“The emperor has no clothes,” Shipley said. “Once again, Terry McAuliffe has far over-promised, and mightily under-delivered.”

Rep. Jim Moran applauded McAuliffe’s actions, saying 400,000 Virginians were “left out in the cold” when the General Assembly rejected the option to expand Medicaid.

“Governor McAuliffe’s initiative, A Healthy Virginia, will help to right that wrong and secure quality healthcare for those Virginians most in need,” Moran said in a press release. “Unfortunately, the Republicans running the Commonwealth’s legislature are committed to their partisan agenda and continue to block healthcare for the 400,000 Virginians who need it most. Thankfully, from mental healthcare for the underprivileged to accelerated access to treatment for our veterans, this plan goes a long way to reaching the goals of the Affordable Care Act.”

However, Delegate-elect Rip Sullivan (D-48), while praising McAuliffe’s efforts, said they don’t go far enough.

“While the Governor’s plan is a welcome and creative step in the right direction, it is not the solution, nor the remedy for Virginia’s ailing coverage gap issue,” Sullivan’s campaign said in an email.

“Gov. McAuliffe’s announcement today will enable many more Virginians to access quality, affordable healthcare,” Sen. Barbara Favola said in a statement. “But as the governor said, there are no substitutes for closing the coverage gap. We’re still missing an opportunity to save lives, save money and help keep endangered hospitals open for business. That means Republicans still need to come to the table.”

Del. Patrick Hope thanked McAuliffe on Twitter. “This is what real leadership looks like,” he wrote.

File photo

by Ethan Rothstein — February 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm 683 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Privia Health CEO Jeff ButlerPrivia Health, a 5-year-old healthcare company located in Ballston, developed its business plan and technology in reverse.

Privia founder and CEO Jeff Butler previously founded BroadReach Healthcare, a company dedicated to bringing healthcare and HIV/AIDS relief to South Africa and other African countries, through, originally, a $100 million U.S. State Department grant. The company was focused on connecting independent and spread-out doctors to each other so the health of the population could be managed at a scale.

Many businesses develop their business plan and technology, make a substantial profit, then donate money or services to help the less fortunate. Butler launched Privia Health in the D.C. area to bring the model of BroadReach — which is now based in Rosslyn — and its business to American healthcare.

“Having doctors directly engaged their patients, we decided there was a market for that in the U.S.,” Butler said. “We thought if we could develop a health plan we could get into some innovative models.”

Privia Health is split into two businesses, Privia Quality Network and Privia Medical Group. Privia Quality Network is a data-sharing platform and “care management system” that helps small-to-medium-sized physician’s practices manage the health of their clients as a population, and keep updated with their care between visits.

Privia Medical Group is a network of more than 140 doctors in smaller practices, bringing the tools of Privia Quality Network to work directly for patients who want to be treated by some of the region’s best doctors, Butler said.

Privia logo“We’re creating a ‘top doctor’ network, layering in our technology, care teams and management approach,” Butler said. “We anchor in the doctor-patient relationships. Great doctors attract great patients.”

Butler said Privia interviews and does its “due diligence” when considering which doctors to include in its network. He called it “sort of a dating process.”

The medical group is the business Butler was hoping to launch at first, but he acknowledged “the market wasn’t ready for it at that point.”

“About a year ago, after talking to physicians, we found the market had caught up to what we were doing,” he said. “Employers have seen premiums skyrocket. The question is ‘how do doctors come together to better manage the health of their patients?’”

The network rewards doctors for delivering better treatment to their patients, Butler said. After a patient has a visit, they’re called by a care manager and they can schedule appointments with nutritionists, physical therapists, personal trainers, and all the data is shared throughout the network. (more…)

by ARLnow.com — January 31, 2014 at 9:00 am 826 0

"Go Home Already" (Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann)

Arlington Population Still Growing — A University of Virginia estimate suggests Arlington’s population was 227,146 as of July 1, 2013. That’s a 9.4 percent increase over the county’s 207,627 population figure from the 2010 census. [Washington Post]

Moran to Speak at Health Care Forum — Rep. Jim Moran (D) will speak at a forum on the Affordable Care Act on Saturday morning at the Lomax A.M.E. Zion Church in Nauck. The event is open to the public. [Sun Gazette]

Spy Books and Movies at the Library — Arlington Public Library has compiled a list of books and movies about spies, the CIA and the Cold War. “Come in from the Cold with a good book!” the library quipped on its blog. [Arlington Public Library]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

by Ethan Rothstein — November 11, 2013 at 9:30 am 1,266 0

Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Two years ago, every major healthcare provider was facing a massive change in the way they would operate when the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, and almost none of them knew exactly what was changing.

Frank Williams was the CEO of The Advisory Board Company – a healthcare consulting firm — when he and his colleagues realized the knowledge gap was not just a burgeoning problem in their industry, it was an emerging market.

“We were going through a massive change of service that was massively complex, and no one knew how to do it,” Williams said.

Evolent logo at its Ballston officeWith a $25 million investment from The Advisory Board and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Williams helped launch Evolent Health two years ago, with a mission to help guide medical providers through the changes in America’s health care system.

Now, Evolent occupies two floors of the new 800 N. Glebe Road building in Ballston, and has a satellite office in San Francisco. Evolent serves MedStar Health in this area, IU Health in Indianapolis and Premier Health in Ohio, among other companies.

Even with a $25 million investment, Williams said the hardest part of launching Evolent was convincing healthcare systems that they needed Evolent’s services.

“We’re talking about a significant vision of transforming the whole organization,” Williams said. “How do you convince a MedStar to work with us?”

Ultimately, Williams said, it was not how much money Evolent raised, but from where. The backing of The Advisory Board and UPMC gave it credibility in the eyes of potential clients.

“UPMC is a $10 billion health system,” he said. “That gave us an immense street credibility.”

Evolent's headquarters in BallstonOnce Evolent signs on with a client, the work doesn’t get any easier. The big shift for providers with Obamacare, Williams said, is providers have to provide healthcare for a population at large, not at a client-by-client basis. Instead of caring for patients only while they are within a hospital’s walls, the new approach Evolent teaches is continual care, including calling patients to check in on their well-being.

Evolent uses massive sets of data to “engage patients with their health,” Williams said. It also helps companies with risk and financial management and sets up businesses’ infrastructure in the new system.

The new system has found resistance, but that comes with all change. Williams said once doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers see the difference — more time with patients, a focus on wellness as opposed to “filling a bed” — they embrace it.

“Everyone needs to think very differently,” Williams said. “You really have to invest time into it, but I think when people see they can spend a lot more time with their patients, they are excited. It’s very exciting.”

Workers at Evolent's Ballston officeEvolent was being conceived before the Affordable Care Act was even passed, and Williams said the months before it was signed into law were “very wobbly.” Even with the debate in Congress before the recent government shutdown and much of the rhetoric during the 2012 presidential campaign, Williams never thought his company’s future was in doubt.

“People had the view that they wouldn’t have to change [if Obamacare hadn't passed],” Williams said. “Now, they would acknowledge that people are asking for value, and they would have anyway.”

Today, Evolent has close to 400 employees, many of whom work remotely with the clients in cities across the country. Last month, Evolent announced a $100 million investment from TPG Capital, a firm with more than $40 billion worth of global assets.

Now, Williams is focused on being a leader in the market that is brand new, but a part of the largest industry in the country, healthcare. Even though clients signing up for Evolent have to make a big leap of faith, demand has been high, Williams said.

“Market demand has been there more than we expected,” Williams said. “This is a huge potential transformation in the industry and hopefully much better care for all of us. If we’re successful, we’re truly transforming an industry.”

by ARLnow.com — October 29, 2013 at 8:50 am 1,028 0

Aerial photo of Arlington, seen on approach to DCA (Flickr photo by Ddimick)

Free Clinic Still Needed Post-Obamacare — The Affordable Care Act may help reduce the number of people without health insurance, but it won’t alter the core mission of the Arlington Free Clinic. The clinic will continue to serve the thousands who are expected to remain without health insurance in Arlington even after the health care law is implemented. [Sun Gazette]

Water & Wall to Open SaturdayWater & Wall, a new restaurant in Virginia Square, is set to open on Saturday. The restaurant, from Tim Ma of Maple Ave Restaurant in Vienna, will serve “eclectic American” cuisine. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Lava Barre Moving to Rosslyn — Fitness studio Lava Barre is moving from Clarendon to Rosslyn starting early next year. [Facebook]

Flickr photo by Ddimick

by ARLnow.com — June 4, 2013 at 9:00 am 561 0

Roosevelt Island by J.D. Moore

Wardian Wins Endurance RacesProlific ultra-marathoner and Arlington resident Michael Wardian won the North Face Endurance Challenge D.C. 50 mile race on Saturday, with a time of 6:45:36. Wardian then woke up on Sunday and placed second in the 10K endurance challenge and won the 5K endurance challenge. [North Face]

Arlingtonian Wins Post Hunt — Arlington resident Sean Memon, 35, won the sixth annual Post Hunt over the weekend. Whereas teams of “hunters” usually compete in the life-sized puzzle game, Memon, an attorney, “was the first individual to win a hunt, either in Washington or in South Florida, where the event originated.” [Washington Post]

Anti-Gang Soccer Tourney in Arlington — The Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force will hold its 5th annual regional soccer tournament at Washington-Lee high school on June 22. The tournament is open to 100 at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 16. [Arlington County]

How to Get a Job in Healthcare — A panel presentation at Arlington Central Library on Wednesday will discuss “opportunities, needs and challenges in the health and medical career fields with a special focus on Northern Virginia.” The event is targeted to job seekers. “While we like to think that ALL Library events are memorable, this one probably could change a few lives, judging from the job markets,” said library spokesman Peter Golkin. [Arlington Public Library]

Flickr pool photo by J.D. Moore

by Katie Pyzyk — September 25, 2012 at 3:10 pm 4,209 17 Comments

A dentist who lives in Arlington but practices in Alexandria has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for health care fraud.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 43-year-old Tuan Vu, who owns Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, PLLC, pled guilty in January to committing health care fraud. Court documents show that Vu admitted the scheme took place at least from January 2007 to September 2011, when he billed dental insurance providers for services he never performed on his patients.

Because of the scheme, more than 50 private insurance providers lost more than $2 million. The federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia also suffered losses, including more than $300,000 to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and the Virginia Medicaid program.

Vu was sentenced to 46 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. Additionally, he was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and more than $2 million in restitution.

by ARLnow.com — July 13, 2012 at 9:15 am 2,575 133 Comments

It’s Friday the 13th — According to superstition, it’s a day of supreme unluckiness. According to one Dutch statistics keeper, it’s actually less unlucky than other days. [Wikipedia]

Reminder: Blue, Yellow Line Work — As a reminder, track work will shut down the Blue and Yellow lines between the Pentagon City and Braddock Road stations this weekend. That means the Crystal City and National Airport stations will be closed. Free shuttle bus service will be provided.

Streetcar Skepticism on Board — Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey and Walter Tejada are both expressing skepticism about the controversial Columbia Pike streetcar project. The Board is scheduled to vote on the project on Monday, July 23. [Sun Gazette]

Colombia National Day Celebration — Arlington will celebrate the 24th annual Colombia National Day on Saturday (July 14). The event, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Theater (125 S. Old Glebe Road) will feature festivities like Colombian folkloric dance and musical performances. For more information, call 703-228-1850.

Murray on Moran Health Care Vote — Republican congressional candidate Patrick Murray is blasting his opponent, Rep. Jim Moran (D), for voting against the latest GOP attempt to repeal President Obama’s health care law. “I’m an eternal optimist,” Murray said. “I hoped against hope that, after having had an opportunity to actually read what is in this 2,700 page bill, Moran would have put partisanship aside and voted in favor of Americans. Sadly he again chose Party over country, particularly for young Americans.”

Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA

by ARLnow.com — June 28, 2012 at 11:35 am 7,122 301 Comments

By a 5-4 decision, announced this morning, the Supreme Court has upheld President’ Obama heath care law. Numerous local and state officials and candidates are now weighing in on the high court’s ruling.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) called the decision a “blow to freedom.”

Today’s Supreme Court ruling is extremely disappointing for Virginia and for America. The PPACA will create a costly and cumbersome system that will impair our country’s ability to recover from these challenging economic times, infringes on our citizen’s liberties, will harm small businesses, and will impose dramatic unfunded mandates on Virginia and all states. Simply put, this is a blow to freedom. America needs market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less.

Virginia will evaluate the steps necessary to comply with the law. While we have awaited this decision, planners have been working to identify necessary resources and issues to be addressed to ensure Virginia implements this flawed law in the most effective and least costly and burdensome way possible. In coming months, Virginia’s healthcare leaders will work to develop the best possible system to meet the healthcare needs of our citizens. It remains my hope that we will elect a new President and Senate so that the existing law will be repealed and states will be given the freedom they need to implement healthcare solutions that work best for their citizens. We will evaluate the opinion in detail in the days ahead and determine what policies are proper for the people of Virginia.

Rep. Jim Moran (D) applauded the ruling, saying the Affordable Care Act will result in “life-saving reforms.”

Today the Supreme Court reaffirmed what Democrats and President Obama have known for two years; the Affordable Care Act stands on firm constitutional grounds.

People across the country are already benefiting from reforms in the Affordable Care Act, including 6.6 million young people who can stay on their parents’ insurance, 105 million Americans who no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage, and 5.3 million seniors in the ‘donut hole’ who have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs.

Though today’s ruling provides assurance as the Administration phases in life-saving reforms including a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, Republicans in Congress will undoubtedly continue their efforts to dismantle critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We must continue fighting these efforts in the House of Representatives to repeal ACA.

Passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 represented a giant leap forward to not only make our health care system work better for Americans of any age, race, gender, or income level, but to rescue our economy from the suffocating grip of spiraling health care costs. We spend nearly 18 percent of our entire economy on health care – twice what every other industrialized nation pays. The Affordable Care Act will reduce our deficit while improving access to, and the quality of, care for all Americans.

Washington has been struggling to deliver meaningful health care reform for more than six decades. Today’s ruling means the United States can finally see its way closer to delivering on that promise for all Americans.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), a leading opponent of the health care law, said today is “a dark day for American liberty.” He is planning to hold a press conference at noon today in Richmond to discuss the decision.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — January 12, 2012 at 6:00 am 7,701 65 Comments

Backyard Chicken Debate Rages On — Egg-laying hens aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, according to an Arlington resident whose neighbor had an illegal chicken coop. “I can tell you that I thought we had excessive flies, we had rodents; the chickens do make noise and there is a smell,” Darryl Hobbs told WUSA9 at a community discussion about backyard chicken raising last night. Chicken supporters dispute claims that their coops are unsanitary, and say that egg-laying hens produce a steady stream of healthy, tasty and sustainable food. [WUSA 9]

Shoplifting Suspect Flees Down Metro Tracks — Metro trains were temporarily shut down near the Pentagon City station Tuesday night after a shoplifting suspect jumped on the tracks in an attempt to get away. The man, who’s accused of shoplifting from the Nordstom’s in Pentagon City, was eventually caught by Metro Transit Police. [NBC Washington]

Hope Wants Insurance Exchange — Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D) is one of the Democratic lawmakers hoping to pass a law to create a state-run health insurance exchange during the new General Assembly session in Richmond. All states are to have an insurance exchange in place by the end of 2013 under the Obama health care plan. “It will allow small businesses and individuals the opportunity to leverage similar to or even greater resources than that of large employers, using that clout to drive better pricing, choices and quality,” Hope said. [Roanoke Times]

Yoga, Pilates, Spinning in ClarendonMind the Mat, a new yoga and Pilates studio, opened in Clarendon this week. The studio, at 3300B Fairfax Drive, is offering free classes this week. Meanwhile Revolve, an indoor cycling studio that opened at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon late last year, is holding its official grand opening celebration tonight from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Correction to Item Yesterday — A Morning Notes item yesterday erroneously stated that County Board member Walter Tejada was seeking the creation of a proposed Office of Latino Affairs in Arlington. In fact it’s BU-GATA, a tenants-rights organization, that is proposing the office’s creation. Tejada told ARLnow.com that he supports improving services for Latino residents, but doesn’t think the creation of a separate county department is necessarily the best way to go about it. “I don’t think it’s the thing to do,” he said. ARLnow.com regrets the error.

Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief

by ARLnow.com — October 14, 2011 at 8:36 am 1,330 13 Comments

More US Airways Flights at DCA? — US Airways is seeking regulatory approval for a plan that will give it more flights in and out of Reagan National Airport. The airline, which serves almost 4 million passengers annually at DCA, has negotiated a deal to acquire some of Delta’s take-off and landing slots in exchange for cash and slots at LaGuardia Airport in New York. [Sun Gazette]

Local Dog a Frontrunner in Postal Contest — Jordy, a mixed-breed terrier who resides in Arlington, is a frontrunner in an online contest organized by the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. Jordy is currently neck-and-neck with a terrier mix named Bentley in a contest to find an Owney lookalike — Owney, for the uninitiated, is a postal service mascot of yesteryear. Owner and Arlington resident Patrice Robinson is trying to rally locals to vote for Jordy. Voting is being conducted on Facebook. [Washington Post, Facebook]

Patch Adams Rallies D.C. Protesters — East Falls Church resident Dr. Patch Adams, of eponymous film fame, rallied “Occupy D.C.” protesters in the District last night. While there, the 66-year-old Dr. Adams told the Huffington Post that President Obama’s health care reform efforts have been worthless. “He sold out,” Adams said. [Huffington Post]

by ARLnow.com — July 20, 2011 at 12:11 pm 1,863 58 Comments

State Senate candidate and Arlington County Board Member Barbara Favola is calling on Virginia health insurers to cover birth control and other reproductive health services for women.

Favola said she would sponsor legislation to require Virginia insurers to follow the Institute of Medicine’s recent recommendations that women be provided birth control, STD counseling, breast pumps and other health services at no charge. According to a campaign press release:

“Virginia insurers should cover birth control which is basic health care for women,” Favola said. “If they won’t do it voluntarily, I will sponsor legislation that mandates it. It’s time for women’s health to be a priority in Virginia.”

The Institute for Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization, released a report today that says health insurance plans should be required to fully cover contraceptives and reproductive education with no cost to patients under the new federal health care law. Annual HIV tests, breastfeeding support and a well-woman care visit should also be fully covered as preventive health measures according to the recommendations.

“Women who have the opportunity to plan their families have healthier children and are better able to care for them. Yet, women are forced to pay more for health care because birth control is not covered by many insurance companies,” Favola continued, “It’s time for that to change. I will lead the fight in the Virginia state senate to make that a reality.”

Favola’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Jaime Areizaga-Soto, has consistently said that he supports the “reproductive rights of women.”

by ARLnow.com — May 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm 1,104 2 Comments

The Veterans Administration is holding its annual “Welcome Home Celebration” for hundreds of returning combat veterans in Crystal City next weekend.

The event, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway), will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. It will serve to educate returning veterans, active duty service personnel and their family members about the VA’s benefits and health care service, through on-site enrollment services, health screenings and benefits counseling.

There will also be a job fair for Iraq and Afghanistan vets, as well as family-friendly entertainment, music and a free lunch.

Flickr pool photo by Knascar

by ARLnow.com — March 29, 2011 at 9:56 am 1,168 14 Comments

Rep. Jim Moran dropped by the Arlington Free Clinic (2921 11th Street South) yesterday to help promote the clinic’s mission of providing high-quality health care to low-income individuals.

Moran spent the afternoon helping to check in patients at the clinic’s front desk. Between patients, he talked about the clinic’s importance to the community.

“I wanted to give more visibility to the Arlington Free Clinic and the people they serve,” he said as a half dozen patients read magazines in the clinic’s sunny waiting room. “They desperately need this service. Otherwise they couldn’t afford their prescription medicine, or the preventive care, or the specialized care the clinic is able to refer people to.”

Currently, the clinic only accepts about 30 percent of patients who apply for care through a lottery system. Moran said that even with the new health care reform law that he championed, the Arlington Free Clinic will continue to play a vital role in the community.

“This is a valuable service,” he said. “This will supplement what we’re able to do through health care reform.”

Since it opened in 1993, the Arlington Free Clinic has been providing medical care to uninsured adults. The clinic relies on a team of 700 volunteers, including 170 physicians. AFC says it does not receive federal or county funding.

Moran’s volunteer work at the clinic was part of his “Jim Pitches In” series, which is intended to highlight the work of local non-profits. Last month Moran delivered Meals on Wheels to seniors in Alexandria.

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