News & Views | December 2021

Friday, January 14, 2022 8:13 PM | Anonymous

Judy Ratliff and Wayne Martin, Co-Chairs, VA Legislation and Advocacy Committee

Sue Rowland has been  our lobbyist for several years and has played a very important role in helping GWSCSW and VSCSW successfully achieve legislative goals.  Recently, she has been instrumental in setting up meetings between GW and delegates/senators from Northern Virginia, as well as meetings that have also included VSCSW.  A major goal was to acquaint them with some of the serious problems our members are having with insurance companies.  The end result was that they agreed that we could send them the problems, but also recommend some solutions. So, please send your case examples to me at or to Wayne Martin at and we will forward all that are appropriate, along with your suggestions to solve the problem.  Medicaid-related problems are governed by Virginia Law and will be quite appropriate to send to the legislators.  If your problems are with private insurance, we will figure out how to make them relevant to the legislative process.  Keep reading and you will see other options for dealing with this.

Our lobbyist will also explore setting up meetings with insurance company representatives and representatives from our organizations.  Another possible solution will be found below.

This brings us to the more unhappy news about our lobbyist.  Sue Roland will be retiring from most of her lobbying clients, which means she will be leaving both Societies.  She has given us the names of two potential new lobbyists, and we will be meeting with them soon.  Sue will remain involved with us through the end of December, 2021.

Insurance Issues

Based on the problems with insurance plans that kept showing up in the list-serve. I asked our lobbyist, Sue Rowland, to set up a meeting with the VA Bureau of Insurance (BOI) to clarify what they can and cannot do for us and our clients.  The meeting was organized jointly by us and the VSCSW, and they were the primary organizers.  The meeting was held on October 15, 2021, with Ms. Billie White. 

The BOI enforces and administers the insurance laws of Virginia to protect consumers and safeguard insurer solvency. The BOI also provides free professional information and complaint services to residents of Virginia.  Alas, herein lies the rub.  Our clients can call and register complaints against the insurance companies, but we, as providers, cannot.  It took a while, and a lot of case examples presented by attendees, but Ms. White finally heard us.  She agreed to relay our desire to be able to contact the BOI ourselves to an appropriate contact higher up in the BOI administration.  This change would not only help us, but would give the BOI the opportunity to collect provider data to send to the Legislature, which is the only body that can change the law to allow providers to contact BOI directly. 

There were two other points made by Ms. White.  Providers need to check their contracts carefully to determine what is actually required of them by the insurance company.  And providers can contact the BOI, who will direct them to the appropriate person to contact with problems with federal, Medicare and Medicaid insurances.

How to Find Your Legislators

Sue Rowland presented at the recent Legislation and Advocacy Luncheon held on October 31.  

One of the topics covered was how to find which Virginia senator and delegate represent you.  To do this, go to  Click on Visit the New "Who's my New Legislator Service".  Then follow the prompts to find the legislators who represent you, as well as which legislative district you live in.

Crisis Receiving Centers  (From a press release)

Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation on September 21, 2021, establishing the "Marcus Alert", a statewide mental health alert system to ensure behavioral health experts are involved in responding to individuals in crisis, including by limiting the role of law enforcement.  The law is named to honor Marcus-David Peters, a high school biology teacher who was killed by a police officer in Richmond while experiencing a behavioral health crisis in 2018.

"Individuals in crisis must be treated with dignity and met by behavioral health professionals who are equipped to help them get the care they need," said Governor Northam.  "I am grateful to the advocates across Virginia (who) made their voices heard, and I thank the General Assembly for passing this bill, which represents an important step forward in reforming a system that too often criminalizes mental illness.  Our work is far from finished, and I remain committed to continuing our efforts."  Hopefully, our new governor and the Republican House will continue to see the importance of this program.  

It should be noted that one of our members, Dan Campbell, has been very active in advocating for this program and has provided a synopsis of his work, as follows:

The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is implementing the Marcus Alert Law in response to the police killing of Marcus-David Peters in 2018. The law requires Virginia to create a mental health crisis response system that will include a new 988 emergency number that will go to a separate call center beginning in the summer of 2022. Crisis responders will be able to bring people in need to Crisis Receiving Centers (CRC’s) rather than to criminal detention centers or emergency departments. These services will reduce mass incarceration and the overpopulation of state psychiatric hospitals.

A CRC is opening in Prince William County with 23-hour stabilization beds for 16 adults and 16 children. Additionally, 16 medium-term beds will allow patients to stay for up to 14 days, usually on Temporary Detention Orders (TDO’s). As you might imagine, a lot of money is required for the initial build out and ongoing operation of CRC’s. While Medicaid will pay for patients, the current estimate is that 38% of patients in the Prince William County CRC will be uninsured, requiring $7 million per year to keep it open. Fairfax County has similar services through the Merrifield Center. Other counties also are creating their own mobile crisis teams and CRC’s. However, state money to fully fund these efforts has not been allocated and is not in the current Governor’s budget for the 2022 General Assembly session.

GWSCSW has Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), a grassroots advocacy group with over 50 dues-paying member congregations, to push for the full funding of CRC’s throughout the state. Dan Campbell has been active with both VOICE and our legislative advocacy committee. VOICE also advocates for other social justice issues, such as affordable housing and restoring drivers' licenses to felons.  If you want to learn more about this issue, reach out to Dan Campbell at

Contributions to This Monthly Article from The Members

We welcome, well, we actually desire, to have--articles like Dan's that reflect what you, as members, are advocating for.  We will be sending out a request for information to go into this column, on a quarterly basis, to be posted in the list-serve.  Our members are doing a lot in the area of advocacy and we want to recognize that.


No, we are not vampires.  But we do need new blood on our L & A Committee.  We are old and are both retired.  We need members who are still practicing.  It does not require giving a pint.  A quarter of a cup, even an eighth of a cup, will do.  A request from us may be to assist us in our contacts with legislators, provide information that will assist in passing relevant legislation, writing an article  for this column, or in contacting your legislator to assist in promoting or defeating legislation.  We look forward to your responses to our requests.

Judy Ratliff, Co-Chair,  | Wayne Martin, Co-Chair,
PO Box 711 | Garrisonville, VA  22463 | 202-478-7638 |

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