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100 Orgs.: Don’t Leave Medicaid Money on the Table

PHOTO: A coalition of more than 100 organizations, Healthcare for All Virginians, is asking state lawmakers to look at how the health insurance gap can be closed. Photo courtesy of CDC
PHOTO: A coalition of more than 100 organizations, Healthcare for All Virginians, is asking state lawmakers to look at how the health insurance gap can be closed. Photo courtesy of CDC
January 15, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. - Healthcare for All Virginians, a coalition of more than 100 organizations, is asking state lawmakers to look at how the health insurance gap can be closed.

About 400,000 Virginians are "too poor" to qualify for Affordable Care Act coverage subsidies, "too rich" for Medicaid and yet can't afford to buy coverage on their own. Health attorney Jill Hanken with the Virginia Poverty Law Center said the solution is to offer Medicaid coverage, and federal money is sitting on the table to make that happen.

"Our governor is strongly in support," she said, "and we're hoping that the legislators can find some common ground to develop a plan that works for Virginia, and also provides insurance coverage."

Hanken said the strongest pushback is seen in the House of Delegates, where concerns are raised about ongoing federal support for the Medicaid coverage, and there's opposition in general to federal health care reform.

The highest rates of uninsurance in Virginia are in Southside, Southwest, Northern Neck and rural areas, she said. While community health clinics provide care to thousands without coverage, Hanken said they aren't the solution.

"Thank goodness there are many safety-net providers that are available, but they cannot meet the need," she said. "In fact, they're only meeting about a third - or 30 percent - of the need out there, and they're stretched to the limit."

Most Virginians who have fallen into the coverage gap have jobs, Hanken said.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - VA