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April 5, 2013

Medicaid Expansion: No Longer ‘If,’ But ‘When’

Medicaid expansion is now law in Virginia.

The only question left is when will it happen?

The answer is more than just an academic exercise. It’s crucial to the well-being of over 400,000 people in every region of the state who will now have a chance to get health insurance.

They include tens of thousands of military vets; workers in industries critical to the state’s economy like tourism, retail trade, education and construction; elderly and disabled adults; and working parents

The path to expansion runs through the new Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission that will oversee three major phases of reform that are necessary to move forward:

  • Continue reforms that are currently underway, including a major new project to better coordinate care for low-income Virginians who receive both Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Implement substantial changes in our current Medicaid benefits to be more like those available under commercial health insurance.
  • Seek innovative ways to deliver better health care to all Medicaid patients.

Once the Commission agrees that the conditions of the reforms have been met, Virginia must offer coverage to those Virginians and collect the billions of federal dollars available to pay for it.

The Commission has a good running start: The state’s own Medicaid office has started the first phase of reforms on the punch list, and it has preliminary agreement from the federal government to pursue other reforms. Efforts already under way include better coordination of care for seniors, moving foster children into managed care, and strengthening fraud prevention and other efforts to make sure every Medicaid dollar is spent wisely.

The General Assembly and the Governor have laid out the path forward for Medicaid expansion. Now the Commission should get to work so expansion isn’t delayed – 400,000 Virginians are waiting.

–Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst

Related Reports:

How Medicaid Works: A Chartbook for Understanding Virginia’s Medicaid Insurance and the Opportunity to Improve it

Soldier’s Misfortune: About 34,000 Virginia Veterans Lack Health Insurance, and Lawmakers Can Help Them

The Commonwealth Institute

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