2023 Health Care Access Legislative Agenda

young black child receiving an ear exam


Voices empowers children, youth, and families disproportionately impacted by inequitable outcomes as agents in the creation of policy solutions to ignite change in their communities. Through our direct engagement with youth advocates and hearing from the professionals serving families, Voices embraces a variety of perspectives to create trauma-informed and healing centered spaces for advocates to share their stories and reconcile trauma through systems change.

For far too long, policies in our country and Commonwealth have perpetuated racism interpersonally, institutionally, and systemically, known as structural racism. The impact of historical racism and trauma show up in disparities in access and outcomes, including income and wealth, educational opportunities, and health. Our young people today still face the impact of historical racism within the systems they encounter and the communities they live. To ensure all children in Virginia have the opportunity to thrive despite race, geography or income, we must focus on the root causes that have produced inequitable distribution of resources, eliminate barriers to fair and equal participation and dismantle social and institutional biases.

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Health Care Access

All children in Virginia must have accessible health care regardless of income, race and ethnicity, gender identity, and geography

Access to high-quality health care and comprehensive coverage is vital for all children and youth in Virginia, regardless of income, race and ethnicity, gender identity, and geography. Having uninterrupted access to culturally-responsive and gender-affirming preventative services, primary care, and treatment enhances young people’s lifelong health and promotes better health outcomes, such as staying up to date on vaccinations, managing chronic health conditions, and reducing injury and harm. 

More than two million Virginians, including nearly half of the state’s children and youth, are now enrolled in Medicaid/FAMIS. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of having access to health coverage and allowed more children, youth, and parents to receive continuous coverage throughout the public health emergency.  

Access to health care does not end with having insurance coverage. Equitable access to health care includes the availability and accessibility of health care services in communities. It includes addressing social determinants of health — such as economic stability, food access, housing, and transportation — that promote the long-term improvement of health and establishing environments in which patients are treated with dignity and respect and given culturally and linguistically appropriate care.

Health Care Access Priorities:

  1. Pass legislation to “Cover All Kids” and expand access to comprehensive and affordable children’s health care coverage by establishing a health care coverage program in Virginia available to children from low-income families regardless of immigration status.
  2. Sustain children’s health insurance coverage and limit gaps in coverage by promoting continuous eligibility for children and intentional outreach to hard-to-reach communities.
  3. Invest in culturally appropriate community-based supports by funding a study to design a Medicaid Community Health Worker (CHW) benefit to reduce pediatric hospitalizations and health disparities in underserved communities.

Governor’s Proposed Budget: 

  • Includes $20 million in ARPA funds for DMAS to procure a one-time vendor to assist in the redetermination of Medicaid enrollees over the twelve-month Medicaid unwinding period. 
  • Includes $10 million in ARPA funds for VDSS to fund one-time costs of making overtime pay available to local DSS eligibility staff to perform the redetermination of Medicaid enrollees over the twelve-month Medicaid unwinding period. 

House and Senate Budget Negotiations: 

  • Support $7.3 million from the Senate for “Cover All Kids” to provide comprehensive children’s health insurance coverage to all income-eligible children, regardless of immigration status. 
  • Support $200,000 in state and federal funds from the Senate for a one-time study to design a Medicaid community health worker (CHW) benefit. 
  • The Senate and House both agree that it is necessary to provide $16 million in state and federal funds to DMAS to support staff as they handle the increased workload associated with the Medicaid unwinding process. The House-approved budget language is more flexible and not tied exclusively to funding the call center. We support the additional funding and flexible language included by the House.


Our 2023 Maternal and Infant Health Priorities.


Voices is a member of the Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) Coalition.

For more information, contact Emily Moore.