University intrigue was abound this week in Charlottesville, as University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan was voted out by the school’s Board of Visitors.
While many have focused on the retirement costs of the state pension system, retiree health-care costs in Virginia continued to climb to alarming heights.
Former governor and U.S. Sen. Allen took the first step toward reclaiming his seat in Washington, D.C., this week, claiming 65 percent of the vote against a field of three GOP opponents, to face Democratic nominee and former Gov. Kaine this fall.
But pundits were questioning this week if Allen’s support would be enough of a bump to solidify the Republican base before November.
“If he wins with 60 percent of the vote, I think that is bad news for him,” said Quentin Kidd, director of the Judy Ford Watson Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, prior to the election. “But if he really blows it out of the water, 80 or 85 percent of the vote, then I think he demonstrates the sort of strength of his support within the Republican primary electorate.”
The University of Virginia became the center of intrigue and faculty strife this week as the school’s Board of Visitors voted to oust Sullivan.
The move was widely criticized by the school’s faculty, as Sullivan was a tenured professor before ascending to the role of school president, prompting the board to respond to faculty concerns this week.
“Among the many challenges, we are especially concerned about the recruitment and retention of you, our esteemed faculty,” Board Rector Helen Dragas wrote in a letter this week.
The Faculty Senate continues to back Sullivan, signing a resolution Thursday expressing its support for the former sociology professor.
While retirement costs dominated the pension reform debate earlier this year, health-care costs for state retirees have doubled from 2008 to 2010, leaving the state with a $5 billion hole.
State records revealed that Virginia funded a mere 23 percent of its health-care liabilities in 2010, a 3 percent decline from the previous year.
Health-care costs have become of increasing interest as the nation awaits the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the national health-care law.
“That will probably dictate in some manner how we handle public employee health care,” state Sen. John Watkins, R-Midlothian, said. “If indeed there’s going to be a minimum benefits level that will be required for Medicaid recipients — recipients of care provided through health-care exchange — we’re going to have to take close look at that and probably conform public employee health care to something similar.”
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced this week that a woman involved in a $1.5 million Medicaid scam was sentenced to three years in prison.
Lorie Monroe, owner of Glen Allen-based Creed Xtreme Marketing Concepts, deployed her employees to refer Medicaid recipients to a self-proclaimed, intensive in-home therapy service provider run by a pastor in exchange for the kickbacks, Cuccinelli said.
Monroe also will have to pay more than $545,000 in restitution.
McDonnell seeks to remove labor-affiliated MWAA board member Martire
Just as the ongoing Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and Gov. Bob McDonnell feud over the Silver Line began to settle down, the governor raised the stakes Thursday by asking the airport authority to remove Dennis Martire from the board.
Martire, a Kaine-appointee, has been in the spotlight in recent weeks for his ties to the Laborers International Union of North America as well as a $9,000 trip he took to a conference on MWAA’s dime, which was cited in an audit of the board.
“The Governor determined that recently well-publicized issues regarding actions of Mr. Martire as a board member threaten public confidence in MWAA at a time when the Authority is engaged in construction projects of immense importance to Virginia and the region,” McDonnell spokesman Jeff Caldwell said in a statement. “It is crucial that the public have trust and confidence in MWAA and the individuals who serve on the board.”
Martire has since filed a lawsuit in federal court, The Washington Post reported.