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Virginia Medicaid Expansion: Helping Hand to Cardiovascular Patients

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of acute and chronic illness globally, in America, and in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health. (Pixabay)
Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of acute and chronic illness globally, in America, and in Virginia, according to the Virginia Department of Health. (Pixabay)
June 7, 2018

RICHMOND, Va. — The expansion of Medicaid in Virginia is a huge boost to those with cardiovascular disease, one of the top causes of death in the state.

After four years of back-and-forth over the expansion, Gov. Northam is expected to sign the state budget Thursday that would extend health care to more than 400,000 people across the state. Over the past few years, the Republican-controlled legislature pushed back on expansion, believing the extra health care would add unwanted expenses to the budget.

Dr. Shon Chakrabarti, interventional cardiologist with Cardiovascular Associates, said the passage of the bill will save hundreds of lives.

"All those patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smokers can all get into the medical care system that they couldn't access before,” Chakrabarti said.

State budget leaders expect Northam to sign the budget without amendment at 2:30 this afternoon on the South Portico of the Capitol.

The expansion will also help thousands of children across the state who deal with heart issues at a very young age. Over 40,000 children nationwide deal with various forms of heart ailments that need to be treated, yet not all have that opportunity.

In areas such as rural and Southwest Virginia, fewer than 25 percent of individuals under the age of 65 have adequate health coverage. Jodi Lemacks, national program director for the group Mended Little Hearts, said kids with heart issues are dependent on health coverage - and some need it to survive.

"It can be a matter of life and death,” Lemacks said, “or it can make a difference in how healthy they stay and how able they are to get the right health care that they need for their condition."

In November, Idaho, Nebraska and Utah will also vote on similar Medicaid expansion, which would boost the total number of states with Medicaid expansion to 36.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - VA