In the News

Commentary: Labor Law Provides Possible Solution to Hospital Disputes with Insurance Companies

Families in our area – mine included – are experiencing a considerable amount of fear and anxiety as Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (“Anthem”), the largest commercial insurer in the Commonwealth of Virginia, continues to fight with the Mary Washington Healthcare System (“MWHS”) over insurance coverage. The hospital system ended its contact with Anthem because it believes that it is not being compensated fairly. The insurance provider, in response, argues that the hospital system is trying to raise prices several times higher than the rate of inflation. This dispute is nearly identical to the clash between Cigna and MWHS in May 2021 that ended up with Cigna being considered out of network for six months until the two companies could reach a compromise.

Commentary: My party is poor people

I grew up in a small city at a time when small cities and towns in America still built things. For the better part of a century, General Electric operated a 300-acre transformer plant in the heart of my hometown of Pittsfield which is situated on the banks of the Housatonic River in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. For more than 13,000 people who worked there at its height, out of a total population of 50,000, the mammoth factory was a source of personal pride and a seemingly enduring symbol of America’s industrial strength during the post-War era.

But, like many small cities and towns, that slowly started to change. The transformers division shut down completely around when I was born and many of the good-paying, union jobs all but disappeared when I was in grade school. The mammoth factory still sits there as a reminder of what once was and, for many of the long-displaced workers, what they once had. My friends’ parents would speak of General Electric in a forlorn, wistful way, almost as if the company itself was a former lover. The community carried an enduring sense of loss.

Commentary: Moving forward on affordable housing

I attended a new home dedication ceremony in Ferry Farm sponsored by the Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity. I had toured the home while it was still under construction and was excited to see all the work that construction program manager Emily Berg had put into the home since I had been there. I was also eager to meet the new homeowner, a paraprofessional working in Stafford County Public Schools. Watching her cut the ribbon and her children run in and out of their new bedrooms were truly heartwarming moments.

Homeownership is a vital foundation for helping working families find a path toward economic and personal stability. Moving into affordable homes improves health, educational attainment, safety, and personal wealth for many families. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “homeowners accumulate wealth as the investment in their homes grows, enjoy better living conditions, are often more involved in their communities, and have children who tend on average to do better in school and are less likely to be involved in crime.”

State Abortion Bans Cause Pharmacies to Withhold Medication

On June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, No. 19-1392, 597 U.S. _ (2022) declaring that the U.S. Constitution does not protect the right to abortion. At least eight states banned abortion the day the ruling was released and 13 more have so-called “trigger laws” that will prohibit abortion within 30 days after Dobbs.

As disastrous as these laws are for reproductive freedom, they do not just ban abortion. They ban access to several important medications used to treat chronic illnesses such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease because they could be used to induce medical abortions and that has caused some doctors and pharmacists, worried about liability, to start cancelling prescriptions for any drugs that could arguably cause a medical abortion.

From Poverty to Politics: My Campaign for Virginia Senate

My name is Ben Litchfield and I am seeking the Democratic nomination for Virginia Senate District 27, which is centered around Fredericksburg, Virginia, just 53 miles south of Washington, D.C. If elected, I would be the youngest State Senator at 35 and the only Millennial Democrat. Growing up as a poor kid in the trailer park, I never imagined that I would be in the position to run for State Senate. But, here I am, and I owe it to a strong social safety net. I’m running to rebuild that safety net here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

How a Berkshires-born candidate got in the middle of Virginia’s abortion access fight

PITTSFIELD — Ben Litchfield, who was born in Berkshire County 35 years ago, announced in February he was going to run for Virginia’s state Senate. At the time, he highlighted issues like jobs, transportation and education.

That has changed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. “Instead of being a local race focused on local issues, it has become a national race and a referendum on the movement of the far right to restrict abortion access,” said Litchfield.