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**2014 Health Legislative Priorities:
VPLC supports the implementation of the ACA in Virginia, including the Medicaid expansion, and opposes any efforts to restrict eligibility or reduce services in public health insurance programs for lower income Virginians.
Issue: Access to Healthcare. There are One Million Uninsured Virginians Most of the uninsured work, but they are low-income. They are often unable to access necessary health care. They delay screenings and treatments, and often seek care in inappropriate settings like hospital emergency rooms, which shifts costs to everyone. Virginia’s Medicaid eligibility levels are extremely low compared to those of other states. Lower income parents are covered only if their income is less than 40% of poverty, which is under $10,000 per year for a family of four. Virginians without children are not covered at all, unless they are disabled, elderly or pregnant.
Solution: Medicaid Expansion By implementing the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion option, Virginia will be able to provide
Medicaid to people with income below 138% of the federal poverty line, which is about $32,500 per year for a family of four and $15,900 per year for an individual.
Benefits of Implementing the ACA Medicaid Expansion:
• Up to 400,000 uninsured people in Virginia are expected to qualify for Medicaid. This reflects coverage for almost ½ of Virginia’s one million uninsured.
• The ACA provides 100% federal funding for the first three years, and then federal funding is reduced to no less than 90% of the costs. • According to a Senate Finance Committee briefing, the federal funding for the Medicaid expansion will be around $2 billion dollars a year which could support 30,000 jobs. The expansion will provide enormous benefits to Virginia’s economy and its citizens.
Overview of Health Law
VPLC’s work on Health Care Law focuses on the major health programs for low-income Virginians. Access to health care is critically important to low-income Virginians. Many rely on public health insurance programs such as Medicaid, Medicare and FAMIS, which involve complex laws and policies. VPLC often works with coalitions pursuing the same goals. These coalitions include Healthcare for All Virginians, Virginia Coalition for Children’s Health, Virginians for Improved Access to Dental Care and Advocates for the Disabled.
Much of VPLC’s work on health law is public policy advocacy with Congress, the Virginia General Assembly, and administrative agencies. For example, VPLC has worked on successful legislative initiatives to protect and expand Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for children, pregnant women, and the elderly/disabled. It has opposed cuts in medical services and promoted provider reimbursement increases when needed to ensure access to care.
On the national level, VPLC’s health law attorney has been actively engaged in supporting health reform legislation by providing information to the public, other organizations and Virginia’s Congressional delegation. The recent passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) offers enormous opportunity in Virginia and VPLC will work on implementation of the new law through education and advocacy.
Since eligibility for government health programs can be complex and confusing and program rules change often, the expertise of VPLC’s health law attorney is called upon frequently. She provides ongoing technical assistance and training about health law issues to legal services staff, private attorneys, outreach workers and other service providers.
Because it is a statewide support organization for local legal aid programs throughout Virginia, VPLC does not generally handle individual cases. However, co-counseling or direct representation may be available in limited cases involving significant statewide health issues. For assistance, first call your local legal aid office or call 1-866-534-5243 to reach your local legal aid office.
Health Law Resources
Affordable Care Act Resources
- September 13, 2013 Webinar: Virginia Medicaid Eligibility – October 1 Changes and Update on Medicaid Expansion
- August 29, 2013 Webinar: In the Weeds – Premium Tax Credits and Cost Sharing Reductions
- August 15, 2013 Webinar: Virginia’s Health Insurance Marketplace-The Basics
- Healthcare Changes: What You Need to Know
- A Discussion on Medicaid Expansion (mp4 audio file)
- 30,000 Jobs! Virginia Should Expand Medicaid (.pdf)
- The Affordable Care Act: What’s Next for Virginia (.pdf)
- The Business Case for Adopting the Medicaid Expansion: Good for Virginia’s Businesses, Economy and Citizens (.pdf)
- The Commonwealth Institute
- Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare
- Virginia Organizing’s Health Care page