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Advocates: Court Decision Huge Victory For VA Uninsured


Thursday, June 28, 2012   

RICHMOND, Va. – Advocates of the Affordable Care Act are hailing the Supreme Court's decision to uphold President Obama's healthcare reform law, especially what it means for the state's uninsured.

Jill Hanken, staff attorney with the Virginia Poverty Law Center, notes there are more than a million Virginians without health insurance. The Supreme Court's ruling gives states some flexibility in the part of the law that expands Medicaid to cover the working poor, but Hanken says 40 percent of the state's uninsured are expected to get coverage through the program over the next few years.

"Over 400,000 uninsured Virginians could now qualify for the Medicaid expansion - very low-income adults – with 100 percent of funding coming from the federal government."

According to the consumer watchdog group Families USA, more than 2,700 Virginians died early for lack of insurance between 2005 and 2010. It says more than 500 died in 2010 alone because they delayed medical care. The Supreme Court decision is "a clear victory for long-overdue healthcare reform," according to Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack.

"This is truly a hallelujah moment. It means that families will get the peace of mind that health coverage and care will be there for them when they need it."

The law mandates that every state create up an insurance exchange, where people can shop for the best deals on coverage. It also provides subsidies for many businesses and individuals who may be entering that insurance market for the first time. Hanken is convinced that Virginia should go ahead with plans to put the exchange in place.

"The Governor's Health Reform Advisory Committee has made a lot of important recommendations about setting up an exchange in Virginia. And now, with this green light from the Supreme Court, we can move forward."

Conservatives have sharply attacked healthcare reform, calling it a massive expansion of federal power. However, that argument did not persuade the majority of the court. Gov. Bob McDonnell called the court's decision disappointing, but said the state would comply.

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