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Legislators Talk Obamacare, Children’s Issues at Panel

The legislative forum was hosted Friday by SCAN, an organization working to prevent child abuse in Northern Virginia.

State Sen. Barbara Favola and Dels. Charniele Herring and Dave Albo shared their thoughts on Obamacare and children and family legal issues Friday during an Alexandria forum hosted by SCAN, an organization working to prevent child abuse in Northern Virginia.

The forum took place as part of a special Child Advocacy Training with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia at Church of St. Clement on Quaker Lane. Favola, D-31st, and Albo, R-42nd, took the opportunity to weigh in on Obamacare and its effects on Virginia.

“There are still some people hoping beyond hope that it’s going to go away,” Favola said. “But it is the law of the land now. It survived a Supreme Court decision and it survived an election.

“And I can tell you that interest groups you might not think would be supportive of this, like business and moderate Republicans, have said, ‘We actually do have to do something. We know that health care costs are escalating at such a rate its strangling the economy.’ ”

She continued: “This is not perfect. Obamacare is not perfect, and I would never say it is. But, you know what? We’re starting to organize around it and we need to move forward.”

Albo replied, “I hate Obamacare,” he said. “I think it’s the worst idea ever, and I actually supported the bill that said we won’t recognize it. But I now realize that, number one, it was upheld by the Supreme Court; number two, my team lost the election. It’s the law of the land, and now we have to follow the law.”

He added, “In my opinion, if you’re a conservative, one of the things is that you honor the law and you follow it. And that doesn’t mean you get to follow the parts you like and don’t follow the parts you don’t like.”

Children and Family Issues

The three legislators spent most of the hour-long forum discussing state issues related to children and families. Favola said she expected a budget amendment for a crisis intervention program for youth behavioral health to come up in the next General Assembly session, following the launch of five pilot projects throughout the state.

Favola also urged constituents to embrace Medicaid expansion, calling the state’s current program “skeletal.” “There are families that if we don’t provide a medical home will only access services at a crisis point, at the most expensive time in the illness and probably where they’re going to get the worst outcomes,” she said.

Favola also said her legislative agenda would focus heavily on children, including bills that would enable re-entry into independent living services for foster children and youths who turn 18 while they are in the juvenile justice system, a child support enforcement bill and a bill to restore Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits to those convicted of drug possession.

Albo said he is working on a child accountability system that would bring various agencies together to benefit child victims. He also said he hasn’t decided how he plans to act on Medicaid expansion. 

“The problem we have that we’re looking at is, can we really trust the federal government to keep their commitment of paying 100, 100 or 90 percent, or none,” he said. “ … I’m not trashing the program — there’s many great benefits — but I’m very worried about going bankrupt.”

Herring, D-46th, said she is planning an initiative to enhance penalties for sex trafficking. 

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