Tag Archives: James Sherlock

UVa Response to Medical Student First Amendment Lawsuit

Norman K. Moon Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

Jim Bacon reported April 8 on the claims of Kieran Ravi Bhattacharya, a former student at the University of Virginia Medical School, who alleges that he was retaliated against for exercising his First Amendment freedoms at a panel discussion by the University’s chapter of the American Medical Women’s Association (“AMWA”).

Senior Judge Norman K. Moon of the United States District Court Western District of Virginia in a memorandum opinion dated March 31, 2021, dismissed three of the four complaints but left in place the First Amendment allegation. 

Mr. Bacon offered the following cautions: 

“That ruling presents only one side of the story, Bhattacharya’s, and has to be considered in that light.”

“If Bhattacharya displayed a pattern of being loud, belligerent, and threatening, the actions taken against him conceivably might be justified.”

The defense Answer to the plaintiff’s First Amendment retaliation allegation was filed yesterday.   Continue reading

VDOE Transgender Policies Dangerous to Both Children and School Personnel

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia’s Model Policies for the Treatment of Transgender Students in Virginia’s Public Schools is a bigger mess the more I study it.

It is as far as I can tell unprecedented in scope. I checked parallel California, D.C. and Arlington County policies. None of them comes close to the dangerous nonsense in Virginia’s new Model Policies.

Even if we ignore the legal, medical, ethical and parental rights issues, which we won’t, Model Policies will prove untenable in any school that tries to comply.

We absolutely need to make transgender students feel safe at school and not discriminate against them in any way.  Arlington County has done it well in my view. But the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) (Department) new regulation fails every test of professionalism and common sense with its attempt to address those needs.

Be assured however that Model Policies meets key tests of radical progressivism.

  • Its prescriptions challenge the tenets of every major religion and the ethics of people who care about ethics;
  • It is unsupported by evidence or common sense, uncaring of consequences, unachievable by sentient adults; and
  • It is mandatory.

Continue reading

Good News for Virginia in Best-Places-to-Work Rankings

by James C. Sherlock

The new Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For has been released.

Good news

Four Virginia-headquartered companies made the list.

  • Hilton, McLean #3
  • Capital One Financial, McLean #9
  • CarMax, Richmond #36
  • Navy Federal Credit Union, Vienna #59

Other News

There are nine health systems on the list. Not only are none of them headquartered in Virginia; none of them have facilities in Virginia.

A Cautionary Tale of Rural Healthcare and a Peek Inside a Health System Board Meeting

by James C. Sherlock

Revised 12 April at 1:34 PM

I ran across a fascinating story buried deep in a massive Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS) database on Ambulatory Surgical Center (ASC) inspection reports.

The report I will share with you is a cautionary tale both of rural healthcare and of the way hospitals view and treat ASCs, even when they own them. The ASC in this case is in Virginia, the hospital that owns it is in West Virginia.

Nobody told the Virginia Department of Health or Medicare, which license and certify it respectively. This is the story of a VDH surprise inspection at the end of November 2020.  It was indeed a surprise – to the inspectors.  The ASC was closed, and had been closed a long time.

But it revealed a great deal about rural hospitals, ASCs and the business calculations of integrated health systems.

It also revealed that antitrust law is not always in the forefront of the decision trees of the boards of non-profit health systems.

Continue reading

COPN Drives Richmond’s Tuckahoe Orthopedics to Be Acquired to Survive

Bon Secours’ St. Mary’s Hospital, in the same medical complex as Tuckahoe Orthopaedics.

by James C. Sherlock

This is pretty straightforward.

COPN is driving a physician shortage in Virginia because doctors are not granted the independence to practice the way they want to with the facilities and equipment they need and that in turn is depressing their incomes. Reversing Robin Hood, COPN takes from the physicians and gives to the hospitals.

I offer in this essay a direct example.

Pre-COVID projection physician shortages in Virginia

The Medical Society of Virginia is of the opinion that: 

“Virginia’s COPN has failed to improve access, control costs, and ensure quality. … COPN laws prevent private health care providers from competing with larger providers to bring patients the same service at a lower cost in a more convenient location.”

A story yesterday in the Richmond Times Dispatch announced that Richmond-based Tuckahoe Orthopedics is getting a new owner, Bon Secours. Bon Secours operates five hospitals in the Richmond area.

Continue reading

Sentara CEO Kern Among 10 Highest Paid Nonprofit Executives in America

Sentara CEO Howard Kern

by James C. Sherlock

Sentara CEO Howard Kern is well paid. We will compare his compensation to those of the highest paid non-profit CEOs in the nation and to the CEO of the largest for-profit healthcare system in the country. Turns out he is extremely well paid.  

We should all have his agent.  

Many are unlikely to have thought about it, but non-profits have no stockholders and their boards officially work for the public. As citizens, we may wish for a better board at Sentara, but there is no mechanism for removing them except by government action.  

That is worthy of consideration by the government of Virginia.

Nonprofit CEO compensation comparisons. I examined a survey that listed the ten highest paid nonprofit CEOs of 2019.  Seven of those ten were healthcare CEO’s. The compensation packages of those seven ranged between almost $26 million and $8.3 million. 

Mr. Kern’s compensation package was reported as $8,053,745 on Sentara Healthcare’s IRS Form 990. But Mr. Kern’s 2019 compensation did not really miss the cut overall.If they had known the numbers when it was conducted, that survey team would have listed him as the tenth highest paid non-profit executive in AmericaContinue reading

COPN Monopolies Depress Income for Virginia Healthcare Professionals Without Lowering Costs

The Business of Healthcare

by James C. Sherlock

Virginia is among the richest states in the country.  

We are ranked ninth among states with the highest median household income in the 2019 (latest) Census Bureau American Community Survey. Virginia median household income was $74,222 and the U.S. as a whole was $62,843.

But Virginia has a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) law among the most stifling of competition in the nation. The law itself and the regional monopolies created combine to suppress both opportunity and income for healthcare professionals.  

The monopolies don’t just control the healthcare delivery market, they also control the labor market.  

This essay will illustrate the effects of COPN and COPN-generated monopolies in depressing wages, and thus on the willingness of medical professionals to practice here. And then show you those lower wages don’t save consumers a dime. Continue reading

Board of Education Downgrades Qualifications for Science Teachers

by James C. Sherlock

“Every student succeeds” is the motto of the state education plan. Let’s take a look and see how this focus on “student success” is playing out in the day-to-day policy judgments of the Board of Education.

This column has reported that the Board of Education, in pursuit of “equity,” is actively reducing the qualifications of teachers for classroom instruction.

This one will explain how Virginia arrived at a passing score for the Praxis Middle School Science Teacher exam that allowed the applicant to get more than half of the questions wrong on the test and still step in front of your child’s classroom.

The Board process made no reference at all to students. Continue reading

In 2019, 49% of Virginia’s Black 4th graders Could Not Read – Mississippi Offers Hope


by James C. Sherlock

Since 2013, Mississippi has made unprecedented, best-in-the-nation improvement in the academic achievements of its children starting as measured in nationwide testing. The improvements were especially pronounced in 4th graders who benefited directly from its 2013 literacy law.

I have done a deep dive into those results and traced them back to public policy.  There are actionable lessons for Virginia school districts seeking improvements in the literacy of their students. Mississippi has far better school literacy laws, and a markedly better Board of Education and education strategic plan than Virginia.  

Fundamentally, Virginia is going in a different direction than Mississippi in terms of child academic achievement because the Governor, the General Assembly and Board of Education want it that way. It is simultaneously going in a different direction in measures of child academic achievement. Continue reading

The UVa School of Education Provides Exclusive Analysis for State Early Childhood Education Policy

UVa Ed School

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes thumbing through the state Budget Bill, HB1800 (Enrolled), one finds something other than what one is looking for.

I was examining the Education budget, and specifically the Department of Education, Central Office Operations, Item 137, Instructional Services (18100).

That is where the massive infusion of federal COVID education dollars are found. The instructional services budget increased from $32 million in FY 2021 (ends Jun 30, 2021) to almost $263 million in FY 2022. The increase is all federal dollars and all for Program Administration and Assistance for Instructional Services (18102).

Readers know I am a graduate of the University of Virginia, but sometimes that causes me some discomfort. This is one of those times. Continue reading

Virginia to Teach Critical Race Theory to Newborns

by James C. Sherlock

George Orwell

George Orwell, call your office. A copy of “Virginia’s (New) Birth-to-Five Early Learning and Development Standards” is on your desk.

For our readers, go here and click the March 19 VDOE press release to download.

The Commonwealth has publishedVirginia’s Foundation Blocks for Early Learning” since at least 2013. They were excellent but voluntary. 

Progressives cannot abide voluntary.

They have always considered parents the biggest obstacle to turning kids into little “social justice” warriors. Virginia’s General Assembly progressives have fixed that problem. The new program is mandatory unless you keep your kids at home until they must by law attend K-12.

Where your kids will get a “late” start on that journey.

Parents have no voice, much less rights in the matter. That is a progressive definition of heaven. (If that word has not been cancelled — hard to keep up.) Continue reading

Recommendations for “Equity” in Virginia Public Schools Will Destroy Them

by James C. Sherlock

I just received my March edition of “EdEquityVA Monthly Newsletter” from Governor Northam’s Department of Education. Here are the opening paragraphs:

The Office of Equity and Community Engagement is pleased to share that the Virginia Board of Education has revised its teacher performance standards and evaluation criteria to add a standard on culturally responsive teaching and equitable practices.

The action during the Board’s March 18th meeting aligns to stated goals outlined in Virginia’s Education Equity Framework, and carries out legislation approved by the 2021 General Assembly (House Bill 1904 and Senate Bill 1196) requiring that teacher evaluations include an evaluation of cultural competency. The following performance standard was added to the Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers: The teacher demonstrates a commitment to equity and provides instruction and classroom strategies that result in culturally inclusive and responsive learning environments and academic achievement for all students.” (Academic achievement was not defined.)

Continue reading

Contract for Experienced STEM Professionals to Teach in Virginia Schools

by James C. Sherlock

James Lane
Superintendent of Public Instruction

Every time the shortage of STEM teachers is taken seriously, as it was in William C. Lyons’ terrific article yesterday, the Departments of Education and local school boards come up with what they consider to be a cool name for a program to entice retired military officers, most of whom have engineering and other STEM degrees and are still relatively young, to teach STEM classes as a second career.

They get some takers.

Those officers have their military pensions to reduce the impact of low wages on their families. They already have the health insurance and other benefits they need, so that is not an attraction to teaching.

But teaching is very worthwhile and under the right conditions can be quite fulfilling. Sounds like a perfect match.

Yet I have three Navy friends who tried it for all the right reasons a couple of decades or more ago, and none of them lasted more than a year. If left to teach, they would have been fine.

But none of them ultimately could put up with the daily annoyances that passed for management and administration in the public schools. It was the meetings, committees, “training,” and what some considered less than professional environments and treatment that drove them away. Continue reading

New Antitrust Laws Promise Scrutiny of Virginia’s Healthcare Monopolies

by James C. Sherlock

I have written here extensively on the necessity to enforce federal antitrust laws against the anticompetitive activities of some of Virginia’s regional healthcare monopolies. 

I am happy to report federal legislative changes from the past year that will strengthen the enforcement of those laws. 

First, the Antitrust Criminal Penalty Enhancement and Reform Act (ACPERA) was reauthorized. It incentivizes corporations to self-report and cooperate pursuant to DOJ’s corporate leniency policy.

Congress also passed the Criminal Antitrust Anti-Retaliation Act that prohibits employers from retaliating against certain individuals who report criminal antitrust violations. DOJ had been waiting for that for a long time.   Continue reading

The Business and Politics of Senior Care in Virginia

by James C. Sherlock

We write here often about senior care, the companies that provide it and the politics around that business.

It is useful to understand the continuum of care to make sure we also understand the different financial situations which companies in different parts of that industry find themselves and the way they are overseen and paid in Virginia.

The larger corporations that offer these services often offer both facility and in-home care.

The basic descriptions below are offered for considering the business interests and therefore the lobbying efforts of the companies that provide the services. They are not meant for personal counseling. Continue reading