Tag Archive: health insurance

  1. FAMIS: A Success Story That’s in Jeopardy

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    ***UPDATE*** 1/6/15    Sign on letter for organizations supporting extension of funding for FAMIS

    FAMIS, the public health insurance program for low-income families, along with Medicaid, has helped reduce the number of uninsured children in Virginia by 24% from 2008 to 2013. Comprehensive, child-centered benefits and affordable cost-sharing with families make FAMIS an effective means of ensuring that children in low-income, working families grow up getting the preventive and primary health care they need to thrive. Both Republicans and Democrats have championed this public health success for kids in Virginia.

    Without action by Congress, however, funding for the entire Children’s Health Insurance Program (which we call FAMIS in Virginia), will expire at the end of September 2015. If this happens, it will be left up to each state to take over the entire cost of insuring these children (the federal government currently covers 67% of the cost) or discontinue the program, leaving an estimated 104,000 Virginia children without insurance. It is unlikely Virginia would take over full financing of the program, as the federal assistance is built into the FY15-FY16 state budget, and the Commonwealth already faces a deficit.

    Loss of the FAMIS program would essentially double the number of uninsured children in the Commonwealth. According to a new report released today by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, “Children’s Coverage at A Crossroads: Progress Slows,” 5.4% of the Commonwealth’s children, or more than 101,000 kids, remain uninsured.

    “Without a renewed commitment to children’s health coverage, we are concerned that the progress we’ve made for children will stall,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. You can listen to a Virginia News Connection story about the report here.

    In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has already taken action to increase outreach efforts to low-income families throughout the state. As part of his September 2014 Healthy Virginia report, Gov. McAuliffe announced additional funding to reach families who may be eligible for FAMIS but are not aware of the program, or who need help applying. According to the Department of Medical Assistance Services, this outreach has already begun in Southwest Virginia, an important area to target since 22% of the uninsured kids in Virginia live in rural areas.

    Child advocates must focus on educating Congress about the importance of refunding CHIP before the program expires. This will ensure that Virginia’s low-income working families do not lose the comprehensive health coverage they now have for their children. Voices is partnering with the Virginia Oral Health Coalition, the Virginia Poverty Law Center, The Commonwealth InstituteVirginia Organizing, and many others to advocate on this issue. Stay tuned for details on how you can take action!

    Would your organization like to join the coalition? Contact Ashley Everette at ashley@vakids.org.

  2. Why Medicaid Expansion Matters for Kids

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    As a member of the Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) Coalition, we were disappointed that the General Assembly once again failed to close the health insurance coverage gap for low-income adults during the special session last week. We think it’s important for policymakers and child advocates to understand the great extent to which this decision affects kids. We’ve prepared a Fact Sheet to explain this, and here are a few of the major points:

    100,000 parents in Virginia fall in the coverage gap.
    400,000 low-income adults fall in the coverage gap in Virginia, meaning they make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to afford health insurance on the federal exchange. Fully one-quarter of those adults are parents of kids younger than 18.

    Insured parents get health insurance and health care for their kids.
    When parents have health insurance, they are more likely to obtain health insurance for their kids AND take them to the doctor for preventive care and treatment when they’re sick.

    When parents have access to health care, they are better able to care for their children.
    Parents are better able to care for their children when their own health needs are being met — for example, untreated maternal depression has a negative effect on the emotional development of young kids. Also, parents with health insurance are less vulnerable to the potentially exorbitant costs and heavy emotional toll of unexpected medical bills.

    For these reasons, Voices for Virginia’s Children will continue to advocate that Virginia close the coverage gap for low-income adults. Contact Voices’ policy analyst Ashley Everette at ashley@vakids.org for more info.

    For more facts about the importance of closing the coverage gap to improve the health and well-being of Virginia’s kids, see our Fact Sheet.