Voices’ Blog

Update on Medicaid Extension

Posted:  -  By: Voices for VA's Kids

There is some good news from the General Assembly this week on extending Medicaid to low-income Virginians, but we have much work left to do. Voices is a member of the HAV Coalition (Healthcare for All Virginians), which consists of more than 60 organizations working to extend Medicaid. Special thanks to Jill Hanken, of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, for her excellent leadership on this effort.

Voices supports extending Medicaid because fully 25% of the estimated 400,000 Virginians who would be eligible for the extension are PARENTS of children under 18. The extension would make Medicaid available for adults up to 138% of the federal poverty level, which is roughly $32,000/year for a family of four. Research shows that when parents are insured, they are more likely to insure their children and take them to the doctor. Extending Medicaid means improving the health of an estimated 100,000 Virginia families with children.

Yesterday, the House of Delegates and the Senate debated and adopted their amended versions of Virginia’s budget.

The House budget (Item 307 #11h) requires a long list of reforms be completed before extending Medicaid and does not allow extension until July 1, 2014 at the earliest. It would likely take much longer to complete the extensive list of reforms, so in essence, this version delays extension indefinitely. In the debate in the House yesterday, Del. Hope asked questions and raised concerns about this long list of reform contingencies.  Please thank him for his efforts.  The House amendment on Medicaid was adopted on a divided vote. (69-27).

The Senate budget (Item 307 #18s) was amended during debate on the Senate floor yesterday to allow Medicaid extension to take place once Virginia has gotten approval from reforms from the federal government, meaning extension can happen much sooner. The Senate budget also establishes a special trust fund to capture savings from the various reforms and from the extension itself to cover future costs. This is a CHANGE from their position last Sunday and is much improved. This amendment was adopted by a strong, bipartisan voice vote (there is no formal record of the votes).

Senator Stosch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, presented and supported the new budget amendment, which was also strongly supported by Senator Hanger, the chair of the Health and Human Resources Subcommittee of Senate Finance.  In addition, Senators Howell, Favola, Wagner, Edwards, Northam, Barker, and Marsh spoke in support of the amendment.  We need to THANK everyone!

These differences will be resolved in the budget conference negotiations.  Conferees will be appointed by Feb. 13th, and the budget conference report is due out by Feb. 21st.

Voices, along with the HAV Coalition, supports the Senate provision because it provides a clear path forward and doesn’t delay expansion for a lengthy, indeterminate period of time. It is particularly important to contact your delegate to let him or her know you support the Senate’s budget amendment on this extending Medicaid.

Thank you for all your efforts so far!

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