Voices’ Blog

Mental Health Reform: The Missing Link is Insurance Coverage

Posted:  -  By: Voices for VA's Kids

Yesterday, February 26th, Voices along with four other leading mental health advocacy organizations, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia, Mental Health America of Virginia, Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, and Virginia Organization of Consumers Asserting Leadership, held a press conference regarding mental health reform and expanding health insurance coverage.  During the press conference we called on the legislature to act with out delay, close the coverage gap, and expand health insurance coverage for adults with mental health disorders.

An estimated 77,000 uninsured adult Virginians suffer from mental illness. About 40,000 of them have a serious illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Many uninsured Virginians with mental health disorders go without the care they need. With health insurance and access to mental health care, this population can avoid unnecessary emergency room visits and costly hospitalizations.  Insurance coverage and access to services can prevent mental health problems from escalating into something much more serious.

 The Senate has offered the Marketplace Virginia plan to cover the uninsured and infuses money specifically for mental health services. The House of Delegates has no plan or proposal to provide insurance cover for the uninsured.  The House voted against the Senate proposal last week.

 We were lucky and thankful to be joined by, Jennifer Miller of Fairfax, one of Virginia’s thousands of citizens with a mental health disorder who is uninsured.  Jennifer shared her story to the press about developing bipolar disorder and how health coverage would help her manage her illness successfully.

 The organizations urged the General Assembly to:

  1. Keep in mind the thousands of uninsured Virginians who cannot get the critical mental health care services they need.
  2. Seize this opportunity to close the coverage gap.
  3. Act without delay.  These Virginians have waited long enough.

Check out our handout from the press conference    

We are excited that there was a huge turnout of supporters, press, and fellow advocates. Be sure to checkout the press coverage from the event:


Mental health advocates call Medicaid expansion ‘missing link’ in coverage – Richmond Times-Dispatch

Senate plan could improve services for mental health – – Roanoke Times

Virginia Medicaid: Mental health advocates call for Medicaid expansion – dailypress.com

Mental health advocates try to seize the moment in Va. – The Washington Post 1.20.14


Charlottesville’s NBC29: Mental Health Advocates Defend Medicaid Expansion 


WCVE’s story was heard this morning in the Richmond area.

Thanks again to all who attended the press conference. For more photos from the event please visit our Facebook gallery

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