Virginia: Medicaid expansion enrollment breaks 200,000; 200K more left to go!

This happened while I was out of town, but it's welcome news nonetheless...

Governor Northam Announces Medicaid Expansion Hits Milestone with More Than 200,000 Enrolled
Virginians can apply at any time of the year

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday that more than 200,000 Virginia adults are now enrolled and will have health coverage starting January 1. The achievement marks a major milestone in the Medicaid expansion initiative approved last summer.

“This bipartisan initiative has empowered men and women across the Commonwealth to take an active role in improving their health,” said Governor Northam. “The historic response from our citizens demonstrates the need for access to health coverage that will benefit our families, our communities and Virginia’s economy. I encourage uninsured individuals to learn more about this new health coverage opportunity and to apply today.”

The new coverage is available to men and women ages 19 through 64 who are not eligible for Medicare and who meet income requirements, which vary by family size. For example, a single adult with an annual income at or below $16,754 may be eligible for coverage. An adult in a three-person family with a total household annual income at or below $28,677 may be eligible. Medicaid applications are accepted year round.

“Having access to quality, low- to no-cost health insurance gives people the ability to take control of their own health and not live in fear of what will happen if they get sick or injured,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. “Newly enrolled Virginians will be able to start 2019 with the health services they need and the peace of mind coverage brings.”

“I am incredibly proud of our team for the passion and work ethic they demonstrate every day,” said Dr. Jennifer Lee, Director of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services. “Our Cover Virginia Call Center staff deserve special recognition because they have truly been the heartbeat of this massive enrollment campaign. There are still thousands of Virginians who need access to health coverage, and I want them to know that we are eager to help them apply.”

The Cover Virginia Call Center has received nearly 170,000 calls since it began accepting Medicaid applications under the new eligibility rules on November 1. The call center logged more than 6,000 calls on November 1, the largest number in a single day since the facility first opened in July 2001. The call center has topped that number on five other days since then, including November 26, when the call volume exceeded 7,000.

“The progress that we have made to date galvanizes us as we continue to build on these tremendous results,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Duke Storen. “The spirit of collaboration and our joint commitment to the people we serve brought us to this point, and I look forward to celebrating many more successes as we continue working together to make a positive impact on the health of our citizens.”

More information about the new health coverage and eligibility rules is available at www.coverVA.org. The website includes an eligibility screening tool to help individuals assess whether they may qualify for coverage. Visitors to the website can sign up to receive regular information through email and text about the new coverage and enrollment process. Information is also available by calling 1-855-242-8282. Individuals who are deaf or hearing impaired can call 1-888-221-1590. The call center is closed Near Year’s Day, but is open for its regular hours on New Year’s Eve. Regular call center hours are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. until noon.

There are an estimated 400,000 lower-income Virginians eligible for the program. I estimate that around 85,000 of these are being "cannibalized" from high-subsidy private ACA exchange enrollees, and some number of the rest are currently enrolled in some other program or another, so the net gain in healthcare coverage won't be quite as high as the 400K figure suggests, but it's still an important accomplishment, and it never would have happened if Virginia Democrats hadn't had a massive blue wave in 2017. Elections really do have consequences.