HB 10, the VA Healthcare Freedom Act, passed the full House Commerce & Labor Committee Thursday by 15-4. Three committee members later registered their votes to make the final tally 17-5. Significant in this vote is that three Democrats, Dels. Johnson, Joannou, and Lewis, joined the 14 Republicans on the committee, making this a bi-partisan bill.

Additional action was taken during the committee meeting. HBs 576 and 722, identical to SB 417, were “rolled into,” or merged into, HB 10.

Senate bills to be merged?

On the Senate side, now that three identical bills have passed the Senate, SBs 283, 311, and 417, it remains to be seen how these bills will be merged and under which number. I spoke today with Sen. Quayle, patron of SB 283, Sen. Martin, patron of SB 311, and the legislative aide of Sen. Vogel, patron of SB 417. No clear answer was given, except that tradition often allows the bill to go the senator with the most seniority. So, while we TEA Party Patriots have championed SB 417, it looks likely that it will be rolled into one of the other two bills.

Then we will have the issue of whether HB 10 and the surviving Senate bill will be merged. While they are similar in some respects, they are uniquely different. The Senate bills focus on the individual not being required to purchase health insurance. HB 10 focuses on no law restricting an individual’s right to choose his own health plan or medical services. They each have also been written for different subsections of the Code of Virginia. More later.