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October 25, 2013

Green Means Go

Recent comments by Virginia’s top health official could mean a green light for nearly 400,000 people to finally get health coverage in the state.

Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel on Monday said the state Medicaid office – the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) – considers that it has met the reform requirements set out in the budget adopted by the 2013 General Assembly. “If pushed today, DMAS could arguably say it has now met all the requirements in the budget,” Secretary Hazel said at a meeting of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC).

His statement was in reference to 17 reforms that, according to the state budget, must be satisfied before the MIRC can authorize expansion of Medicaid to cover people not now eligible.  Among the reforms is a cost-saving pilot program for people on Medicaid and Medicare, as well as making Medicaid more like plans in the private market. The fact that DMAS has met the requirements means the MIRC can use its authority to expand Medicaid.

The Commonwealth Institute built an infographic to keep track of the progress of reforms, updating it after each meeting. After Monday’s developments we agree that conditions of the reforms have been met and that the MIRC should authorize Medicaid expansion – good news for all Virginians because it means a healthier state and a stronger economy.   


What’s next? The Chairman of the MIRC, Sen. Emmett Hanger, said he would like the Commission to meet twice more before the legislature comes back in early January. And that he intends “to develop … some semblance of a Virginia plan to move forward.”

Requiring major reforms to Virginia’s Medicaid program before being allowed to expand coverage set a high bar. And now that all the requirements have been met, the state should expand Medicaid – 400,000 Virginians are waiting.  

–Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst

The Commonwealth Institute

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