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Voices’ Blog

2020 Special Session Mental Health & Health- The Impact on Children and Families

Posted:  -  By: Chloe Edwards

We know that children and families are experiencing a combination of symptoms related to the impact of the pandemic, including isolation, stress, anxiety. These symptoms are further exacerbated by time as the pandemic continues. We are pleased the Virginia General Assembly completed the budget negotiations and prioritized mental & behavioral health services and access to health care. Here are details on what the final budget includes as it relates to their access to mental health and health services. These actions are awaiting the final approval and signature of the Governor.  

Restored Funding for the Virginia Mental Health Access Project (VMAP) 

There is a shortage of child psychiatrists and psychologists in Virginia and across the nation. As a result, a child’s mental health challenges may be first introduced to or discovered by a pediatrician. The Virginia Mental Health Access Project (VMAP) is a statewide mental health access program designed to support health care providers and pediatricians by increasing access to psychiatrist, psychologist, social workers, and care navigators through consultations read more here. The final budget restored the full funding approved in March for VMAP of $6.3 million in FY21 to expand the program. In total, the House and Senate authorized $65.7 million in funding to improve and expand the public mental health system.  

Eliminate the “The 40 Quarters Rule” to Expand Medicaid to Legal Residing Permanent Residents   

One barrier to obtaining health insurance coverage for legal residing immigrants has been the “40-quarter rule”– a rule requiring immigrants to establish a 40-quarter (10 year) work history before qualifying for Medicaid. Virginia is one of six states to put up this barrier. In March, the General Assembly approved eliminating this barrier, but funding for it was frozen when the Governor amended the budget as a result of the pandemic. The final budget included funding and seeking authorization to begin this eligibility change. Funding allows Virginia to begin seeking a federal waive to provide eligibility after five years of residence and will go into effect April 2021 or when federal approval is provided. 

Extension of Eligibility Timeframe for FAMIS MOMS   

 FAMIS MOMS provides health care coverage for pregnant women with incomes from 143 to 205 percent of the federal poverty level. Coverage currently ends at 60 days postpartumThe budget includes funding to extend the time period that low-income pregnant women can receive coverage to 12 months and will go into effect April 2021 or when federal approval is provided.  

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