Virginia’s Legislature Must Expand the State’s Medicaid Eligibility Provisions

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February 16, 2013

By Khalil Abdullah, NAM

ARLINGTON, VA — The Virginia legislature is debating a unique opportunity this legislative session. If the state participates in the Medicaid expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 400,000 Virginians could gain access to healthcare through their ability to afford health insurance.

February 16, 2013

By Khalil Abdullah, NAM

ARLINGTON, VA — The Virginia legislature is debating a unique opportunity this legislative session. If the state participates in the Medicaid expansion made possible by the Affordable Care Act, an estimated 400,000 Virginians could gain access to healthcare through their ability to afford health insurance.

(Left to Right) Dr. Basim Khan, a physician at Alexandria’s Neighborhood Health Services, Inc, Marco Grimaldo, CEO, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, and Deshundra Jefferson of Virginia New Majority, made presentations in favor of expanding Virginia’s Medicaid provisions. (Photo Credit: Sam Prasad Jillella)

Virginia’s Medicaid guidelines, now, are so restrictive that the state ranks 44th in the country. Only six states make it more difficult to receive assistance, through Medicaid, than does Virginia.  For a state that consistently ranks among the top 10-wealthiest states in America, our current Medicaid eligibility requirements reflect an almost uncaring disregard of the day-to-day reality of working families — families of friends, neighbors, and relatives.

Imagine yourself living in Fairfax, Loudoun or Arlington County, in northern Virginia, and you are being told that your family of three does not qualify for Medicaid because the adult collective-gross is more than $5,974. That’s only 30 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but that’s the current income ceiling cap for a family of that size under Virginia’s Medicaid guidelines.

Sandy Close, Executive Director of New America Media, moderated the discussions at the workshop on “Medicaid Expansion in Virginia,” held in Pentagon City, VA, on February 1, 2013. (Photo Credit: Sam Prasad Jillella)

Many of Virginia’s citizens fall into a huge Medicaid gap. They are too poor, whether working or not, to be able to afford health insurance out of their earnings and they are too “rich” to qualify for Medicaid under our current guidelines. This makes no sense when well-reasoned alternatives are available.

The media, in touch with the real financial struggles of these communities, know these families well— and many others like them. Their family members often suffer from treatable medical conditions, in silence, until the pain is unbearable. Unable to pay for a primary-care physician, they resort to using the emergency room as their treatment plan.

Emergency room visits by those whose conditions could have identified and treated — had they been able to afford the insurance to have seen a doctor – are paid for by the facility.  Eventually we all pay anyway, as our taxes enable those facilities to continue to operate.

These stories are often heard, but the anxiety and misery the state’s Medicaid guidelines inflict upon the working poor, the elderly, and the disabled, is underestimated.

Marco Grimaldo, CEO, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy: “The benefits of Medicaid expansion are compelling — making health insurance available to the elderly, disabled and childless couples.” (Photo Credit: Sam Prasad Jillella)

Virginia’s present Governor, Bob McDonnell, chose to strip the money from his proposed budget that the federal government will reimburse. The Senate, in an act of bi-partisanship, to its credit, has chosen to restore it. If that budget is passed by the General Assembly, Virginia would be eligible to have the federal government pay, for three years beginning in 2014, the cost of all those who fall in the gap. Thereafter, Virginia will never pay more than 10 percent of those costs.

Virginians should encourage an enlightened debate about what’s at stake. The legislative session ends February 22nd. Let your state legislator know that the politics of Medicaid disenfranchisement costs more lives and incomes than revising the state’s Medicaid guidelines in the current Senate-proposed budget. Virginia’s future, and the future health of its Commonwealth, depends on your voice and your support.

Washington DC’s ethnic media journalists with officials of New America Media at the workshop on “Medicaid Expansion in Virginia,” held in Pentagon City, VA, on February 01, 2013: (Left to Right) Peter Dao, Publisher, Pho Nho Vietnamese Newspaper; Khalil Abdullah, Editor, New America Media; Deshundra Jefferson, Communications Associate, New Virginia Majority; Dr. Basim Khan, Alexandria's Neighborhood Health Services, Inc.; Rita M. Gerona-Adkins, Reporter, Asian Fortune Newspaper; Anthony Advincula, Editor, New America Media; Sandy Close, Exec.Dir., New America Media; Marco Grimaldo, Pres./CEO, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy; Kay May, Director; Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare; Dereje Desta, Publisher, Zethiopia Newspaper; Sam P.Jilllella, Special Correspondent & Columnist, Express India, India This Week, MyDosti.Com Newspapers; Not in the picture: Seng Lim Yu, Reporter, Korea Daily. (Photo Credit: Min Lee)

Rather than suffer your medical conditions in silence, call your legislators and urge them to consider expanding Virginia’s Medicaid guidelines so that more families and individuals can afford health insurance. The time is now, your voice is important. Please call.


Community News Special – By MYDOSTI.COM:  Article Edited by Sam Prasad Jillella

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