Category Archives: Regulation

This One Easy Trick Makes Gas Lines Grow Expontentially

Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch

by James A. Bacon

As panic buying sends Virginians to the gas pumps to top off their tanks, Attorney General Mark Herring is encouraging citizens to report instances of price gouging.

“This ransomewear (sic) attack on the Colonial Pipeline could create disruptions in the gasoline supply across the Commonwealth, and unfortunately, bad actors could take advantage of this just to line their own pockets,” said Attorney General Mark Herring in a press release. “Virginians should not have to worry about paying exorbitant prices for gas and other necessary goods during this time.”

Herring encouraged Virginians to file complaints with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

This is the absolute worst possible thing the state can do. Economics 101: During times like this, prices should rise. Continue reading

Virginia Needs a Constitutional Amendment to Elect the Board of Education

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Board of Education (VBOE) is by far the most powerful and consequential public board in Virginia. It is the only one whose Powers and Duties are defined in the Virginia Constitution.

It was a mistake not to make the members of the Board with such vast and unconstrained powers constitutional officers who stand for election.

We are now seeing what the Board, once appointed and confirmed, can do. It has transformed Virginia’s educational system into a Marxist indoctrination system.  Board members know what they are doing is not only radically transformational, but intensely political and fiercely opposed.

Their work is not only dogmatic, but sloppy. Their use of the English language has been demonstrated here to be severely challenged. Not exactly a trait most look for in a Board of Education.

And they do not care. There is no constitutional reason they should.

The current Board has demonstrated like no other before it that it needs to face the electorate. Virginia will need a constitutional amendment to make the VBOE, who are together more constitutionally powerful than any elected official but the governor, constitutional officials elected by the people.

It is time. Continue reading

The Ballad Merger III: Reshuffling, Reconstruction and Repurposing

Norton Community Hospital

by  Carol J. Bova

When Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System merged to create Ballad Health in 2018, the healthcare companies justified the consolidation with the argument that the ability to cut costs and rationalize delivery of health services would yield tangible benefits to patients in Southwest Virginia and Northeastern Tennessee.

The previous article in this series, “Cuts and Consolidations,” detailed how  Ballad Health bolstered finances through shared value-based payment savings, bond refinancing, staff reductions and closures of off-site facilities. This article, Part III, shows how the company acted to lower costs and enhance revenue by consolidating medical services, repurposing hospitals, introducing telemedicine, and implementing a new IT system.

The Virginia Cooperative Agreement, which outlined the requirements of Virginia regulators, allowed repurposing as long as certain “essential services” were retained. Deploying telemedicine and rotating specialty clinics in rural hospitals would help it meet the requirement. Continue reading

The Ballad Merger — A Leap of Faith by Two States

Ballad Health hospital market area in Tennessee and Virginia

by Carol J. Bova

In April, 2015, two Tennessee-based not-for-profit hospital organizations with a 75% market share in Southwest Virginia said a merger would allow them “to address the serious health issues affecting the region and to be among the best in the nation in terms of quality, affordability and patient satisfaction.” The merger  would involve 21 hospitals in 21 counties in two states, and about 960,000 people.

The FTC opposed the merger. The commission said that courts and antitrust agencies view an increase of more than 200 points on a standard measure of market concentration — the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) — as likely to be anticompetitive. The new company’s post-merger score would increase 2,441 points.

In the hope that this merged company might solve overwhelming regional health disparities, Virginia and Tennessee ignored the FTC and took a leap of faith. Both states passed legislation to allow cooperative agreements for a merger of the two systems. To confer immunity from federal and state antitrust laws, the legislation provided for state regulation and active supervision to ensure that the benefits would outweigh any disadvantages. Continue reading

End the Emergency Orders. Now. Every One.

Governor Ralph Northam Signals His Virtue

by Steve Haner

There is no more COVID emergency. Every single emergency order issued by Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam should be lifted immediately. Not relaxed or revised, ended.

For the millions of Virginians now vaccinated, this is all just virtue signaling, “pandemic theater.” For the millions of Virginians who have made conscious decisions not to get the vaccine, my level of concern for them has evaporated. They, their families, and their health care providers are on their own, and, frankly, most will be fine until winter stimulates the virus again.

More Virtue Signaling

By then, more of them will have come to their senses and gotten the shots.

The rules in place are really starting to look stupid.  President Joe Biden, Governor Northam and all the others holding onto and consciously modeling needless restrictions are the real anti-vaxxers now. They are the ones clearly rejecting all the scientific evidence of vaccine effectiveness.  Continue reading

Word Salads from Wankers

by Kerry Dougherty

It’s official. The CDC is run by wankers.

(Yes, I am binge-watching Apple TV’s  “Ted Lasso.” Why do you ask?)

These fools constantly move the goalposts – remember 15 days to slow the spread? Remember just wear a mask for 100 days? – and issue rules that no one with a lick of common sense would follow. Let alone anyone who took high school science.

Take yesterday’s big announcement, for instance.

The CDC declared that it’s safe for all of us – the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike – to go maskless when we bike, run or walk with members of our households. Continue reading

Camping’s COVID Killjoys

by Kerry Dougherty

Someone call a lawyer. I have whiplash.

Happens every time I try to make sense make of America’s top health “experts” and their contradictory opinions, which have a peculiar way of becoming policy. Especially in blue states with governors eager to please the president.


Just this past weekend, for instance, Dr. Anthony Fauci was in his usual place: The make-up chair at one of the Sunday news shows.

Later, on air with George Stephanopoulis, Fauci conceded that the chance of contracting or spreading Covid-19 outdoors was very, very slim and hinted that the CDC would be issuing new recommendations regarding the wearing of masks outside. (President Biden is due to make read a statement on masks today.)

“What I believe you’re going to be hearing, what the country is going to be hearing soon, is updated guidelines from the CDC,” Fauci told ABC’s Sunday program “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.” “The CDC is a science-based organization. They don’t want to make any guidelines unless they look at the data and the data backs it up.”

“But when you look around at the common sense situation, the risk is really low, especially if you’re vaccinated,” he said.

I hesitate to point this out, but lots of us knew this a year ago, back when Gov. Ralph Northam foolishly outlawed sunbathing and then beach volleyball, lest anyone get sick and die from touching a COVID-tainted ball. Continue reading

Biggest U.S. Orthopedic Facility Projects Exclude Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Beckers just published a list of the 14 largest orthopedic projects in America in 2021. None of them are located in Virginia. Virginia’s COPN law and its administration make such projects highly unlikely here.

Every Virginia hospital that did not propose such a project would oppose it. And in the monopolized metro areas, why spend the money? They have a captive audience.

For reference, not one hospital in Virginia is rated among the 50 in orthopedics by U.S. News and World Report using its methodology. Only three of the 14 orthopedics projects listed by Beckers are in states that regulate such projects, two in New York and one in Alabama. Continue reading

TCI Model Rule Ready for Study, Comment

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.  (Happy birthday, Mr. President.)

Read the governing document for the Transportation and Climate Initiative and it becomes clear there is more going on than just an effort to reduce motor fuel use with a combination of taxes and shrinking caps. That may really be a secondary goal. Continue reading

Selling Virginia Pot? Expect A Union Label

by Steve Haner

When Virginians begin to buy marijuana from state-licensed providers, if Governor Ralph Northam has his way, along with his smiling visage on every baggie of grass you may also find a union label.

I’m kidding about getting high with the governor’s image on the package but using the legalization bill to promote union political goals through a back door is no joke. Future state marijuana licensees may be in danger of losing their ability to sell pot if they fail to live up to various union-driven labor law requirements, set out below.  Continue reading

Relaxing Restrictions on Pharmacists

by James A. Bacon

Under a bill signed by Governor Ralph Northam today, pharmacists will be able to provide a wider array of services to adults such as writing prescriptions for the flu, administering COVID vaccines, and prescribing controlled substances for HIV. A separate bill signed into law will expand the scope of practice for physician assistants.

“It’s long past due for us to eliminate barriers for people to get basic care,” said Del. Sam Rasoul, D-Roanoke, who submitted the bills. “Pharmacists and physicians assistants are health care professionals who can and should be able to provide basic services. For people who don’t have a primary care provider, this will make a huge difference when it comes to treating basic illnesses.” Continue reading

The Real Nursing Home Scandal in Virginia

Canterbury Rehabilitation and Healthcare Richmond

by James C. Sherlock

Mike Martz has written three excellent columns that have appeared in the Richmond Times Dispatch starting March 19.  Headline of one: “Virginia tries to move ahead of national ‘reform agenda’ for nursing homes.”

The gist of it was that a couple of national nursing home industry organizations have taken advantage of the public consciousness of the COVID tragedies to produce a “reform agenda” centered around significantly higher Medicaid payments.

Unreported so far is that they also want weaker inspections. More about that below.

We all applaud any attempt to “improve operating standards for nursing homes, initiatives to boost the facilities’ workforce, and efforts to give residents more privacy and protect them from poor-performing nursing homes” as Martz wrote. Who could oppose that?

The financials of nursing homes lead me to agree that higher Medicaid payments will be required to accomplish those goals. But the higher payments need to be accompanied by better oversight to make sure that the money brings the desired outcomes.  Continue reading

Flag Fight

by Deborah Hommer

On March 3, 2021, the Fairfax County Planning Commission recommended
against adopting proposed regulations governing the number, size and
setbacks of flags and flagpoles.

“This was a solution, looking for a problem,” said Planning Commission
Vice Chairman John Ulfelder. “I suspect, based on a lot of comments we’ve
received, a lot of other people perceived it the same way. If it ain’t
broken, don’t fix it.”

On March 9, 2021, the Board of Supervisors held approximately five hours of testimony, in which the decision was made to defer the decision for two weeks until 4:30 p.m. March 23. It’s not clear the board will see things the same way as Ulfelder.

“This proposal didn’t come from nowhere,” said Board Chair Jeffrey C.
McKay. “If you had only watched some of the media conversations about
this, you would think Fairfax is the only jurisdiction that has enacted
rules like this before. The public discussion about the zoning change got
off the rails in a way that’s unfortunate.” Continue reading

Congress to Kill Right To Work, Since GA Didn’t?

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, savior of Virginia’s Right To Work Law?

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

One key goal for many of Virginia’s new progressive Democrats has been repeal of Virginia’s venerable Right To Work Law, and in 2020 they crossed one milestone by passing repeal in a key committee. But the Democratic leadership, perhaps wary of losing the bill in the Senate or angering too many moderate voters, ended the effort there and snuffed that bill. Continue reading

More Unintended Consequences: Shutdowns, Alcohol, and Domestic Violence

The good news… Rapidly declining COVID-19 cases in Virginia

by James A. Bacon

As the number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Virginia passes the two million mark, new COVID-19 cases in Virginia are falling off rapidly. We can look forward to the day when fear of the virus will be a distant memory. But the damage wrought by the virus — or, to be more accurate, wrought by the lockdowns prompted by the virus — will linger with us for years. Perhaps for  lifetimes.

The impact on young children, compelled to learn in an online environment for which they are ill suited, has been well documented. A distressingly high percentage of students, consisting disproportionately of lower-income minorities, has fallen significantly behind academically. Whether they ever catch up is anybody’s guess. But sociologists already are speculating about the long-term cost of lower educational achievement as reflected by higher dropout rates, increased criminality, lost employment, and lower lifetime wages.

There may be an even more insidious, more damaging effect of the lockdowns: increased domestic violence and childhood trauma. Continue reading