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January 19, 2016

What’s It Going to Take?

Last week, Louisiana’s new governor signed an executive order to close the coverage gap for the 292,000 low-income residents of his state who have waited two years for their state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

With this action by Gov. John Bel Edwards, Louisiana joins 30 states and the District of Columbia – including 10 with Republican governors – in the common-sense decision to close the coverage gap.

By closing the gap, these states are seeing historic gains in coverage and will continue to reap the benefits as their residents get the health care they need to work, take care of their children, and be productive members of their communities without having to worry about an illness bankrupting them.

Meanwhile, in Virginia, 400,000 people across the state are still waiting.

Lawmakers again have the opportunity to close the coverage gap and have the federal government pay 100 percent of the cost through the end of this year.

They have, again, the opportunity to help those in their communities who often have to choose between life-saving medical treatments and bankruptcy.

They have, again, the opportunity to help people who work in some of the most important sectors of Virginia’s economy, including tourism, retail, and construction, but who don’t have and can’t afford health insurance.

They have, again, the opportunity to save millions of taxpayer dollars by using federal money to pay for health care services the state currently covers.

With a growing number of states having closed their coverage gaps, a fresh proposal in front of them this legislative session, and mounting evidence that it not only increases the number of people with insurance, but also saves money, lawmakers are out of excuses.

–Rebecca Park, Health Care Advocacy Coordinator

The Commonwealth Institute

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