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Voices’ Blog

2021 Healthcare Access Legislative Session: Increasing Access to Healthcare (Update: 3/3/2021)

Posted:  -  By: Chloe Edwards

COVID-19 has further shed light on the inequities that exist in our healthcare system, including implicit biases and overall access to healthcare. External conditions can exacerbate one’s ability to be physically healthy, such as racism, environmental factors, and family economic security. The pandemic emphasizes how one person’s access to quality healthcare can impact an entire community, such as knowledge that one is carrying the COVID-19 virus. This gives us the opportunity to do better in ensuring that our residents have fair and just access to what they need to sustain a quality of life and positive health outcomes. There are a combination of multidisciplinary approaches to ensure that everyone has the equal and equitable ability to live a long, healthy, and successful life. 

Our legislative priorities around healthcare access were developed collectively through the Healthcare for All Virginians coalition. For other priorities that address public health, including the social determinants of health, visit our family economic security, food justice, and our trauma and equity policy agenda.

  • Extend Medicaid coverage for legally residing young adults from 18 to 21. 
  • Extend eligibility for FAMIS Moms prenatal delivery coverage to all pregnant women. 
  • Expand Medicaid coverage of “emergency” services for COVID-19. 

View our full 2021 policy agenda.

Informed Perspective

Healthcare Equity Impact Statement

This is the inaugural year of Voices equity impact statements. These briefs analyze disaggregated data to get at the heart of the true policy solution and the impact of that. Here you will find data and talking points to communicate the impact of the policy solution. View the statement here.

Bills We Support

  • Clarify that Medicaid “Emergency Services” specifically cover COVID-19 screening, testing, and all related treatment | HB2124| Delegate Lopez| Directs the Department of Medical Assistance Services to cover COVID-19 services, such as treatments and vaccinations, to be emergency services, for immigrants that meet the requirement for Medicaid. Federal HRSA funds would be use in lieu of Medicaid. This bill would kick if those funds were no longer allotted.
    • Update: This bill has passed and awaits the Governor’s signature!
  • Directs the state Health Commissioner to establish a Task Force on Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures | HB2111| Delegate Herring| The purpose of the Task Force is to examine maternal health data collection processes and establish policies to improve maternal care, quality, and outcomes. The Task Force would report its findings and conclusions to the Governor and General Assembly by December 1 of each year and will conclude its work by December 1, 2023.
    • Update: This bill was included in the budget and has passed and awaits the Governor’s signature!

Budget Items 

The following are items included in the Final Proposed Budget that awaits the Governor’s signature: 

  • Health Care Coverage Options for Undocumented Children| language only| Convenes a workgroup to research and recommend strategies for the financing of health care coverage for undocumented immigrant children.
  • Coverage of Prenatal Services| costs savings from Medicaid match | Allows the payment for prenatal care coverage for income-eligible immigrant mothers through Medicaid. Currently undocumented immigrant moms only receive health coverage for birth and delivery. Prenatal coverage would begin with a state plan amendment is approved– summer or fall 2021.
  • Analysis of Medicaid/FAMIS coverage and outcomes| $500,000 for FY22| Funds are provided to the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) to contract for an analysis of payment, authorization, and provider requirements contributing to the outcomes of Medicaid and FAMIS-covered pregnancies and births.
  • Increase access to doula care for pregnant women | $2.4 million for FY22| Provides increased access to doula care for pregnant women. Doulas have been shown to have a demonstrated impact to reduce racial disparities in maternal health.
  • Medicaid doula provider training and resources| $135,320 for FY22| Funds the second year and one position for the Department of Medical Assistance Services to develop and implement a provider training program for Doula service providers to learn how to explain patient access and bill for Medicaid benefits.
  • Plan for Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team| $51,146 for FY22| Directs the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to convene a work group to develop a plan for the establishment of a Fetal and Infant Mortality Review Team by December 1, 2021.
  • Task Force for Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures|$151,180 for FY22| Requires the State Health Commissioner to establish a Task Force on Maternal Health Data and Quality Measures for the purpose of evaluating maternal health data collection to guide policies to improve maternal care, quality, and outcomes for pregnant women.
  • Funding to increase access to substance abuse treatment | $38,564 for FY 22 | Funding allows members enrolled in FAMIS MOMS to access to treatment in an Institution for Mental Diseases under the Addiction and Recovery Treatment Services (ART) waiver.

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