McDonnell appoints Jones to advisory council

Published 9:26 pm Monday, August 23, 2010

Delegate S. Chris Jones of Suffolk has been appointed to the Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council, which Gov. Bob McDonnell set up to provide recommendations for a comprehensive strategy for health care reform in Virginia.

Members of the council held their first meeting over the weekend in Roanoke. Jones said Monday that he had to miss that meeting, as he was helping his daughter on move-in day at college this weekend.

“I’m pleased to have been selected,” he said of his appointment. “I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Jones, who owns a pharmacy in North Suffolk, will bring an important perspective to the group’s deliberations.

“It’s going to be a busy time,” he said. “We’ll be grappling with significant changes to the healthcare system that lie ahead.”

“Every Virginian needs access to affordable health care,” McDonnell said as he announced the formation of the group. “The challenge is how to provide that access in an economically responsible manner. This group of leaders will help us plan for the future of healthcare in Virginia, and the growing costs that will have a significant impact on our budget and our taxpayers, unless we act proactively and wisely today.”

The growth of Medicare spending is a major contributor to the state’s budget problems, both McDonnell and Jones pointed out. Jones said it accounts for 20 percent of Virginia’s budget. Dealing with it, he said, “is a big undertaking.”

Medicaid Reform is one of six task forces that the council is expected to create. There also will be task forces charged with addressing insurance market reform, delivery and payment reform, medical capacity, medical technology and the purchaser’s perspective.

“It’s a very diverse group of individuals,” Jones said.

Still, the state delegate does not expect things to go quickly.

“From my perspective, we’re going to be at this for a while.”