Voices’ Blog

Expanding Coverage for All, Regardless of Immigration Status

Posted:  -  By: Chlo'e Edwards

We know that when parents have access to health insurance, children are more likely to have insurance as well. Virginia Medicaid is a state and federal partnership that provides medical coverage for eligible individuals in need of healthcare services. The purpose of the program is to improve access to healthcare for those who would otherwise go without it because of financial hardship or circumstances. Medicaid expansion increased access to thousands of families. Yet, there was still a percentage of the population that did not have access to healthcare. 

For example, while it is useful to see that in 2019 Virginia is a strong state overall in providing health insurance coverage with only 5% children uninsured, looking at the data by race in recent surveys reveal a different story. 

The Household Pulse Survey from March 2021 shows that 16% of Latino adults with children in the household reported being uninsured compared with 8% of all households in Virginia. Children are more likely to seek health care when their parents are insured, putting children in mixed-immigration status households or undocumented children at risk of not obtaining health coverage. 

Without access to quality health insurance, children and their parents are left without the care that they need. Therefore, we are pleased to witness the expansion of healthcare coverage for individuals, regardless of their immigration status. 

Health Coverage for Green Card Holders

As of April 1, 2021, those who are not United States citizens but meet other eligibility requirements, such as income and have an eligible immigration status, could qualify for free or low-cost health coverage through the Virginia Medicaid Program. Those who have five years or more of residency in the United States are no longer required to show proof of work history to qualify for Virginia’s Medicaid Program. Before this policy was implemented, lawfully permanent residents or Green Card holders who had five years or more of residency in the United States had to show proof of the 40-quarter work requirement, which would have been 10 years of work history to qualify for Virginia Medicaid. In addition, children under the age of 19 and individuals who are pregnant may also qualify.

This policy was sought in 2019, but due to the pandemic the funding was un-allotted. We are pleased to see this change occur in the Commonwealth. According to Enroll Virginia, those who are most impacted by the ending of the 10-year work history requirement include: parents and other adults under the age of 65, disabled people, the elderly over the age of 65, and individuals who require long-term care services. The rule change will not impact immigrants who are pregnant or children, both of whom are already eligible for Medicaid.

Individuals who may qualify can now visit Enroll Virginia’s website where they can find a local navigator and schedule an appointment. View this flyer with more information; it is also available in six other languages. 

FAMIS Prenatal Coverage

On July 1, 2021, Virginia expanded the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) Prenatal Coverage. Full coverage is now available to pregnant individuals who do not meet immigration status rules for other coverage. To qualify, you no longer need to meet immigration status rules, provide immigration documents, or have a Social Security number to be eligible for FAMIS Prenatal Coverage. You can view what is covered by reading this document. The services provided include doctor visits, prescription medication, prenatal screening and testing, your hospital stay for birth, dental benefits, and behavioral health benefits. According to the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), your coverage can start as early as the month you apply and will last two months after you give birth. There are no co-pays, premiums, or other costs. 

Previously, undocumented immigrant mothers only received health coverage for birth and delivery. For example, pregnant women who met the financial requirements were eligible for full benefits without having to meet the five years of residency or the 40 quarters of work requirements or five-year work requirement. However, some immigrant youth or pregnant individuals, such as those with visas or undocumented children or pregnant women, may have only been eligible under emergency medical services criteria. 

While more individuals are now eligible for prenatal coverage, even those who do not meet immigration status requirements for other coverage, there is other criteria. You must provide the estimated date of your delivery and how many children you are expecting as well as live in Virginia and meet the income rules. 

Through this program, you can receive full health care benefits during your pregnancy and after. The program also covers breast pumps and breast-feeding support during your pregnancy and after your baby is born. If you think you may qualify, visit www.coverva.org and click apply.

You can also apply online by visiting www.commonhelp.virginia.gov or call the Cover Virginia Call Center at 1-855-242-8282 (TDD: 1-888-221-1590). Translation and interpretation services are available in all languages.

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