The American Health Care Act adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives would have a devastating impact on Virginians if it becomes law.
With no independent analysis of the most recent version, the House rushed this through without a full idea of its cost or how many people will now lose coverage. But with many of the provisions of the first version still intact, we know that the cost of Marketplace insurance will increase to unaffordable levels, especially for older Virginians. We also know that the bill still decimates Medicaid, cutting more than $800 billion over 10 years. Altogether, it will result in at least 341,800 more uninsured Virginians within a decade.
It will put many of our most vulnerable residents at risk, including children, people with disabilities and pregnant women. And it places a cap on federal funding for Medicaid, blowing a hole in state budgets and leaving state and local taxpayers to foot the bill. This arbitrary cap on Medicaid will put 1 million people on Medicaid in Virginia in harm’s way.
In addition, Virginia now stands to be punished further for its fiscally irresponsible decision not to expand Medicaid and pull down the available federal dollars to bring health care to hundreds of thousands of uninsured Virginians. Not only will those without insurance continue to suffer, the state will see its block grant or per-capita cap dollar amount set at the level of current enrollment, which is a reflection of Virginia’s parsimonious approach to health care rather than to the real needs of the state’s residents.
This measure also opens the door for insurers to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, putting people with asthma, diabetes, heart defects and other conditions at risk. The recent addition of $8 billion to fund high-risk pools comes nowhere close to covering the cost of care for people suffering from pre-existing conditions. The bill even turns back the clock to a time when insurers could deny coverage for life-saving treatments by imposing annual and lifetime caps.
It’s now up to our senators — Tim Kaine and Mark Warner — to stand up for Virginia’s children, seniors, people with disabilities, pregnant women, families and those with pre-existing conditions who will be paying a dangerous price if this ill-conceived bill becomes law.
On Monday, April 4, we sent the following letter to Governor McAuliffe to let him know that we aren’t giving up the fight, and we hope that he won’t either.
April 4, 2016
Dear Governor McAuliffe:
The Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) coalition is extremely grateful for your unwavering efforts to close Virginia’s Medicaid coverage gap for up to 400,000 very low-income adults. The 100+ organizations which make up the HAV Coalition agree this coverage is absolutely critical to ensure access to necessary health care as well as bolster Virginia’s health care industry and the economy. Opponents of expansion have totally failed to justify their opposition with facts and figures – it’s truly been political gridlock and nothing more.
We share your frustration about the lack of progress on this issue during the last four legislative sessions. We also have very deep concerns about the individuals who must continue to suffer in the coverage gap. For some, the lack of coverage is truly life threatening. We featured a few of the affected people in our booklet Faces of Virginia’s Coverage Gap to explain to legislators and the public how people end up in the gap for various reasons.
Please do not give up on them and the hundreds of thousands of other Virginians who are depending on your leadership and ability to get the job done!
We urge you to continue your fight to do what is right for poor adults in Virginia. In addition to helping hardworking families, closing the gap will address many related needs of people with mental illness, substance use disorders, and those leaving incarceration. We believe the business community, local governments, and educators have an important stake in this debate, and they should be promoting expansion, too.
The HAV Coalition is firmly committed to making broader Medicaid coverage a reality. We will continue to work with your administration and advocate for expansion as long as it’s necessary.
Thank you for your steadfast support.
Coordinator, HAV Coalition
Health Attorney, Virginia Poverty Law Center
Click here for a pdf of this letter.
On Monday, March 7, we delivered the following letter to all members of the General Assembly:
To Members of the Virginia General Assembly:
This session marks the 4th year that you have refused to meet the health care needs of up to 400,000 low income Virginians. During that time you have also forfeited over $3.5 billion available for Virginia to provide real health insurance for your constituents.
The 100+ organizations in the Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV) coalition adamantly believe Virginia should join 31 other states and D.C. to close its coverage gap. We have provided you with information about the benefits, costs, and savings related to this coverage. We have shared with you actual stories of people in the gap who are suffering because they can’t get the health care they need.
These are people who need your help to be healthy and productive. Many of them face enormous obstacles. Their health care needs are often urgent. The financial consequences of not having coverage are also devastating for many.
The large majority of uninsured individuals are in working families, with many of them contributing to the most important sectors of Virginia’s economy. A healthy workforce is essential to Virginia’s future.
Your continued inaction means Virginia – among the wealthiest of states – will continue to have a huge population of uninsured citizens, at a time when our neighboring states are seeing historic gains in coverage. This is unacceptable.
“Access to care” has been cited as a desired goal in many of your discussions this year about mental health, substance abuse, and COPN. We are confident there are ways for you to address all these issues in a comprehensive manner. There are efficient and cost-effective strategies to make a real difference in the lives of your constituents who are low income and uninsured.
The HAV Coalition urges you to put politics aside and do what’s best for the hundreds of thousands of low income adults in Virginia who need health insurance. If you do that, we firmly believe there is a way to develop a unique Virginia solution to address this problem.
You can and must do better. This issue is not going away, until – together – we find a Virginia solution that provides healthcare to ALL Virginians.
Click here for a pdf of this letter.