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August 6, 2015

From Norton to Norfolk

While candidates for the General Assembly are in full-on campaign mode, it’s important that they remember that hundreds – sometimes thousands – of people in their areas still don’t have access to the health care they need. And among the most critical decisions that they will have to make on behalf of their district when they come to Richmond in January is whether to close the coverage gap.

In localities across the state, a quarter to more than half of the uninsured could be eligible for coverage if lawmakers closed the gap. For example, 42 percent of the uninsured in Norfolk could qualify: that’s 12,800 adults between 18 and 64 years old. In all, 195,000 Virginians have been stuck in the coverage gap for more than 18 months now. Most of them are in working families who are struggling to get by, yet they aren’t eligible for Virginia’s meager Medicaid program and don’t make enough to get tax credits to buy private insurance.

To visualize the lost opportunity of closing the coverage gap and the potential it represents for Virginians living in every locality, we’ve created the interactive map below. The map complements these tables that show the number of uninsured adults in each House and Senate district who could get coverage if Virginia accepted the federal dollars already allocated to close the coverage gap in our state.

People without any option for quality, affordable coverage live and work in every city and county in Virginia. In fact, many of them live in the same small towns as the lawmakers who have ardently opposed closing the gap. These lawmakers shouldn’t lose sight of what’s happening in their own backyards.

–Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst

The Commonwealth Institute

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