Sen. Lucas’ Record Shows No Concern for Poor Health of Her Constituents

by James C. Sherlock

Senator Louise Lucas

I mentioned Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, prominently in my essay yesterday in which I criticized the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

To illustrate the point, I have reviewed Sen. Lucas’ sponsorship of bills concerning health care that came before the Senate Education and Health Committee of which she was Chairwoman in 2020 and a senior member in 2019, 2018 and 2017.

The list is missing something — a show of concern for the health of her constituents.

As a reminder, the Virginian-Pilot has recently reported about Sen. Lucas’s home area:

“Eastern Virginia lags behind the state and nation in infant mortality, cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Most of these poor rankings reflect disparities with minority and low-income populations.”

“For instance, the infant death rate in Virginia and the United States was 5.8 out of 1,000 live births in 2017. But in Norfolk, the rate of Black baby deaths was 18.2.”

“Regarding prostate cancer, the national death rate was 19.5 out of 100,000 lives in 2015. But in Portsmouth, Black men died at a rate of 66.5 out of 100,000 — nearly four times that of white men in the city.

I reported yesterday:

“Senator Lucas, the senior member of the VLBC, represents Portsmouth. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2020 ranked 133 Virginia jurisdictions in health outcomes and health factors. Out of 133, Portsmouth was ranked 114th in health outcomes and 117th in health factors. Her district is the epicenter of the Eastern Virginia black health issues cited above.”

So let’s look at the total bills sponsored by Sen. Lucas by year:

  • In 2020, Chief Patron (10), Chief Co-patron (3) or Co-Patron (9), a total of 22 Senate Bills
  • In 2019, Chief Patron (10), Co-Patron (18), a total of 28
  • In 2018, Chief Patron (14), Co-Patron (19), a total of 33

Five of the 83 bills she sponsored over those three years addressed health care issues that came before her Education and Health Committee.

Of those five, three were corrections to existing law of limited impact.

As for the other two:,

  • one was a bill specifically to help Sentara by bringing free-standing emergency rooms under COPN in Sentara’s home base in Hampton Roads; and
  • the other a bill to make it illegal to deny abortions to minors of any age

They included:

  • 2020 SB 983 Certificate of public need; definition of “medical care facility,” facilities subject to review. Summary:

“Adds to the list of medical care facilities for which a certificate of public need is required any facility located in Planning District 20* that has common ownership with an affiliated licensed hospital located within 35 miles of the facility and that includes, as part of the facility, a dedicated emergency department.”

  • 2020 SB 635 Right to reproductive choice; right to refuse contraception. Key provision:

“The Commonwealth shall not discriminate in the protection or enforcement of these fundamental rights (abortion and contraception) on the basis of (among others) age.”

*Planning District 20 includes Southampton, Isle of Wight, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Franklin — home to both of Sentara’s base monopoly and Sen. Lucas’ district.

Bottom Line

So Louise Lucas sponsored:

  • no bill to improve primary care for poor, disproportionately sick minorities in areas like her own district;
  • no bill to increase the number of state healthcare facilities inspectors to fix the critical shortages there, even after the scandalous nursing home COVID death rate exacerbated by staff shortages that are the subject of state inspections of staffing; and
  • no bill to audit massive tax exempt health care corporations like Sentara to see whether they have historically contributed what they should to improving community healthcare for the poor to earn their massive state and local tax exemptions.

Looking further back, in 2017 she served as patron for three bills supporting casino and riverboat gambling, which always hurts the poorest citizens the worst, and no bill to improve the health of her constituents. Not coincidently, she has received $22,000 in campaign donations from gambling interests.

For those of you keeping score in Sen. Lucas’ bill sponsorship over four years: gambling interests 3, improved healthcare for her constituents 0.

Any concern Sen. Lucas may have for tragically poor health conditions among her constituents is utterly absent from the bills she has sponsored over that time.

Her concern for Sentara’s welfare, though, is well rewarded. Her biggest donor class by far is the healthcare industry who, as we mentioned yesterday, has given her $275,000.

She should be ashamed of herself.

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19 responses to “Sen. Lucas’ Record Shows No Concern for Poor Health of Her Constituents

  1. The government shows concern by spending more money. The Medicaid expansion provides FREE health care w no deductibles ,and you can violate every moral hazard w/o penalty. You just teed it up.

    • I teed up nothing of the sort.

      None of the three programs I discussed spends state money except the Health Enterprise Zones bill, and that law in Maryland has saved the state well over $100 million a year net of the state funding and the resulting reduction in Medicaid expenses.

      The only costs are to Sen. Lucas’ biggest donors.

  2. Did you reach out to Ms. Lucas for comment?

    • My charges are based on matters of public record – legislation introduced, campaign donations and validated public health facts – not opinion or rumors that deserve advance comment.

      The tailored “Planning District 20” bill expanding COPN control of competition in her District and in Sentara’s monopoly zone was my favorite.

  3. Curious. As a journalist I would have tried to contact her. Of course I know journalists are in bad odor on this blog. Bias and fake news. But what the hell. It will be 49 years this June!

  4. Seriously? I would congratulate you but you have beaten me to it.

    I see a role for me and other essayists here to research complicated issues of fact which most laymen would not have the time or access to information to research themselves, then to communicate an accurate and understandable version to the readers. Readers can judge if I have done that.

    You suggest I should have contacted Sen. Lucas to see if she had a comment on my essay, which was in actuality a research paper with citations.

    I would certainly do that (and have done so in the past for other columns) if there were any conjecture or rumors here, but there is none.

    Her legislative record, donors, donation amounts and the tragic state of the health of many of her constituents are all matters of public record.

    Those are the evidence. The conclusions wrote themselves.

  5. Fair is fair. Not sure this is. Do you want a dialogue or not?

    • I do want to have a dialogue. Two questions:
      – On what matters would you have reached out to her about in this? The essay is based on irrefutable public information.
      – I know we can contact her staff, but would you have anticipated a reply? She has a firewall up between her and anyone who is not a donor or a constituent. How long would you have waited?

  6. Another position of influence she could have used would have been her membership on the Senate Finance Committee. The Legislative Information System lists the budget amendment requests of each member. In the three years you cited, Sen. Lucas submitted numerous requests for budget amendments. None of them concerned improving the poor health of her constituents. The nearest any amendment came to that subject was one increasing the rates paid by Medicaid for adult day care services by 70 percent. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but it happens that Sen. Lucas owns and operates adult day care facilities.

    • Thanks Dick, I appreciate the input. You are certainly more expert on budget matters than I. I want to get the facts out there, and your input helps with that. Corruption respects no race, color or creed.

  7. Why contact Lucas when the facts of what she hasn’t done/refused to do for the regular folks is clear? When her conflicts of interest are put above the regular folks?

    You know the teachers’ unions’ reps are always interviewed in this area by the media. They know me and will never interview myself or any one else who wants kids back in school. So if the other side wants a dialogue they aint showing it. Nor do we owe them anything, the other side owes us for the past 4 years of childish tantrums and irresponsible “governing”.

    When you have watched people run past seniors and the handicapped for TP but then harass folks to mask up to protect their irreverant selves, we need to fly folks to Venezuela, Cuba, for 6 months to a year.

  8. For what it’s worth, I formed my opinion of Lucas about 20 years ago. I represented my agency at a General Assembly committee for over a year. Each time we met, you could count on her and Henry Marsh both sleeping for most of the meetings. I am from another part of the state, and didn’t see her again until she was caught on video this year toppling statues. I think Henry Marsh faded away to a “high three” on the ABC.

  9. Since most of us here are of the age to remember, here is some news from 50 years ago.

    Watch the video. The codebreakers say they believe it is just self aggrandizing, but I see motivation and a statement of belief that could identify him. What say ye?

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55285805

    • Killing people in order to stockpile slaves in paradise / paradice? Beats me.

      • Kind of a unique belief. If he ever mentioned such a weird thought to anyone? Remember Unabomb was caught because his brother recognized his philosophy, which BTW, his manifesto reads like a random Hanity episode.

        • You should read his writings more carefully. Despite being a psychotic murderer, some of what he wrote is stunning.

          “On the other hand it is possible that human control over the machines may be retained. In that case the average man may have control over certain private machines of his own, such as his car or his personal computer, but control over large systems of machines will be in the hands of a tiny elite—just as it is today, but with two differences. Due to improved techniques the elite will have greater control over the masses; and because human work will no longer be necessary the masses will be superfluous, a useless burden on the system. If the elite is ruthless they may simply decide to exterminate the mass of humanity. If they are humane they may use propaganda or other psychological or biological techniques to reduce the birth rate until the mass of humanity becomes extinct, leaving the world to the elite. Or, if the elite consists of soft-hearted liberals, they may decide to play the role of good shepherds to the rest of the human race. They will see to it that everyone’s physical needs are satisfied, that all children are raised under psychologically hygienic conditions, that everyone has a wholesome hobby to keep him busy, and that anyone who may become dissatisfied undergoes “treatment” to cure his “problem.” Of course, life will be so purposeless that people will have to be biologically or psychologically engineered either to remove their need for the power process or make them “sublimate” their drive for power into some harmless hobby. These engineered human beings may be happy in such a society, but they will most certainly not be free. They will have been reduced to the status of domestic animals.”

          • Seriously, Morlocks and Eloi? Oh, I see. Yes, I suppose Wells could fit the description of the Unabomb given that.

  10. Let’s remember who has a mutual admiration society with Louise Lucas … the former governor who also did nothing while in office for 4 years other than to thoroughly botch handling the riot in Charlottesville …

    https://www.cbs19news.com/story/42917242/mcauliffe-releases-statement-after-charges-dismissed-against-lucas

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