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New Report: Failing Grades for Health Insurance Coverage in Virginia

June 13, 2008

Richmond, VA - Virginians need more protection against rising health insurance costs and canceled policies - and the state isn't providing it, according to a new report. The "Families First Report" was compiled by Families USA, a national consumer advocacy group focusing on healthcare issues. It gives Virginia a failing grade on the ability of its citizens to access affordable care.

A crew of college interns and other volunteers, members of the Virginia Organizing Project, is going door-to-door across the state, handing out nonpartisan voter information guides, to ensure voters know more about the issue before the upcoming elections. Virginia Tech student Gabby Brown is one of 50 interns.

"I actually met a couple of single mothers who said they're having to choose between paying their mortgage, having somewhere to stay, and having health insurance. And of course, they're saying, 'I need somewhere to live,' so that's understandable. But they shouldn't have to make that choice, you know?"

Brown admits some of the responses are discouraging; but sometimes, she says, she's opening doors.

"One couple listened and said, 'Well, I'm still not really interested in it.' But I've had others say, 'Yeah, that is kind-of disturbing," and they want to learn more about the issue through our educational forums."

In the view of the Virginia Organizing Project, the state is doing too little to protect consumers from insurance premiums that go up when they get sick, and policies that are canceled without a chance for state review. The group is calling for federal and state-level protections for health insurance customers. It plans to distribute 300,000 guides, while urging residents to contact their legislators to voice their concerns about healthcare issues.

The Families First report is available online at www.familiesusa.org.

John Robinson/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - VA