On Tuesday (August 18, 2020), Governor Northam unveiled his proposed 2020-2022 budget that leaves many previously agreed upon health initiatives unfunded. This includes not restoring funding for HAV Coalition priorities: removing barriers to health care access for legally residing immigrants ($4.5 million), extending postpartum coverage from 60 days to a full year ($3.2 million), voluntary home visiting services for new families ($11.8 million) and adult dental benefits for those who are covered by Medicaid ($34 million). This was disappointing news, but there is still an opportunity for lawmakers to make health care a budget priority!
The coalition urges lawmakers to restore the funding to critical Medicaid policies that will help more people access continuous health coverage and comprehensive services. Virginia’s Medicaid program has played its part as a vital safety net for many people who have lost jobs or income during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the health equity implications of funding these important initiatives, funding for health care should be prioritized while the state and the nation continues to grapple with COVID-19.
We call on Virginia House and Senate leaders to draw upon the $490 million in unappropriated general funds, and make use of Virginia’s revenue reserve fund and revenue stabilization fund, which combined have a balance of about $1 billion, to make sure as many people as possible have access to comprehensive health coverage and services during the public health emergency and beyond.