The 2020 legislative session has ended, which gives us an opportunity to reflect on all the great policies that have been approved in the General Assembly and Virginia’s state budget! The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly escalated in Virginia on the heels of the 2020 session, further highlighting the need for accessible, comprehensive, and affordable health coverage. The success of these policies are due to Virginians across the state who shared their support of these initiatives to their legislators.
The following includes HAV’s legislative priorities for the 2020 session that were ultimately successful:
Accessing & Keeping Coverage
Medicaid Work Reporting Requirement: The governor’s introduced budget strikes language requiring Virginia to apply to the federal government for permission to implement a work reporting requirement program for some people who access health coverage through Medicaid. The removal of this language would effectively end the threat of mass coverage loss due to this expensive and misguided policy.
The “40 Quarter Rule”: After satisfying the federal 5-year bar, lawful permanent residents (LPR) must currently provide a 10-year work history — 40 work quarters — in order to be eligible for Medicaid in Virginia. Virginia was one of only six states to add this extra barrier to Medicaid enrollment for its LPR population.
Language and funding was included in the general assembly approved budget to eliminate this barrier meaning LPRs are not left behind when it comes to comprehensive health care coverage access.
Postpartum Medicaid Coverage From 60 days to 12 Months: Coverage for new mothers that qualify for FAMIS (139%-205% of the federal poverty limit) has been extended from 60 days after the end of pregnancy to a full 12 months. This extended coverage would allow more women to access crucial health services during the essential first year of maternal and child bonding.
Increased Medicaid Services
Dental Benefits for Medicaid Adults: After being included in only the proposed Senate budget, dental benefits were included in the general assembly approved budget that needs final approval from Gov. Northam. These benefits will become available to adults who access health coverage through Medicaid on January 1, 2021.
Medicaid Reimbursement For Home Visiting Services: The general assembly approved budget includes funding for voluntary home visiting services to help new families learn additional parenting skills. Home visiting programs promote healthy birth outcomes, enhance school readiness, prevent child abuse, and improve family self-sufficiency.
State-Based Exchange: Language and start-up funding was included in the general assembly approved budget for Virginia to implement a state-based exchange. Virginia’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual marketplace is currently run by the federal government. This shift gives the state more control and ability to extend enrollment period, increase targeted outreach, redirect any savings to outreach and enrollment.
Short-Term Limited-Duration (STLD) Health Plans: Legislation was passed to limit STLD health plan coverage to 6 months in any 12 month period and prohibit the issuing of a STLD health plan during the annual ACA open enrollment. These inadequate health coverage options can deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and often do not cover essential health benefits.