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June 27, 2013

Promise Keeper?

There has been some debate over whether Governor McDonnell deserves the praise he got for keeping his campaign promise to improve care for the youngest Virginians. But after taking stock of all the facts, it’s clear that he doesn’t.

In February 2010, Governor McDonnell tried to freeze enrollment in the state’s health insurance program for children and pregnant women (the Family Access to Medical Insurance Security plan, also known as FAMIS), which would have prevented an estimated 28,000 children and pregnant women from getting the health care they needed over the next two years. Fortunately, the Senate blocked efforts to cut this critical safety net.

The governor again tried to cut FAMIS and Medicaid for pregnant women and children in Virginia when he sent two letters to President Obama formally opposing the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that states continue to provide health care through Medicaid to poor children and pregnant women through at least 2014.

And now, the governor’s new budget – the one set to take effect next week – rolls back health care coverage for low-income pregnant women. This puts women and children across the state at risk of losing access to health care and jeopardizes progress in improving the health of these at-risk populations.

Starting in January 2014, if you’re a pregnant mom in a household of three and make more than $25,975 a year, then you won’t qualify to receive health care through FAMIS. The current limit is $39,060 for a family of three. That means that thousands of pregnant women who are struggling to make ends meet in this tough economy may go without the care they desperately need.

Since he got into office, Governor McDonnell has tried time and again to restrict access to health care for the youngest Virginians. That sounds more like a broken promise than a promise kept.

–Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst

The Commonwealth Institute

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