Take time this hol­i­day to re­mem­ber Med­i­caid cov­er­age

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OP-ED - Del­e­gate Lashrecse D. Aird

As the hol­i­day sea­son af­fords us in­creas­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to gather to­gether for spe­cial oc­ca­sions, many of us will have the gift of spend­ing time with healthy fam­ily and friends; but un­for­tu­nately, this is not true for ev­ery­one. It is es­ti­mated that we have 2,000 peo­ple in the City of Peters­burg, 1,200 peo­ple in Din­wid­die County, 800 peo­ple in the City of Hopewell and likely hun­dreds more through­out the re­gion, that are cur­rently with­out health­care cov­er­age.

Last spring, I was proud to join my col­leagues in the Gen­eral Assem­bly in pass­ing a bud­get that ex­panded Med­i­caid, with cov­er­age be­gin­ning in Jan­uary 2019. Prior to pass­ing the bud­get, nearly 400,000 peo­ple were ei­ther not poor enough to qual­ify for Med­i­caid or too poor to qual­ify for pre­mium sub­si­dies.

Now, — for the first time ever — in Vir­ginia, adults with­out any chil­dren and so many that have long gone with­out cov­er­age will have af­ford­able health in­sur­ance — re­gard­less of where they work, their in­come, their age, or their health sta­tus.

Ac­cord­ing to the Vir­ginia Depart­ment of Health, un­der the new guide­lines, a sin­gle adult mak­ing at or be­low $16,750 an­nu­ally may be el­i­gi­ble. A par­ent in a fam­ily of three with a house­hold in­come at or be­low $28,700 may also qual­ify. And, the new cov­er­age will in­clude pre­ven­tive care, doc­tor vis­its, pre­scrip­tions, hospi­tal stays, men­tal health care and more. New cov­er­age will also in­clude care co­or­di­na­tion for in­di­vid­u­als with com­plex med­i­cal and be­hav­ioral health con­di­tions.

En­roll­ment for the ex­panded Med­i­caid pro­gram be­gan on Novem­ber 1, 2018. While some in­di­vid­u­als will be auto-tran­si­tioned into the pro­gram; if you are a SNAP (food stamp) re­cip­i­ent or are the parents of an en­rolled child, you need to sub­mit the ex­press ap­pli­ca­tion mailed to you in a yel­low en­ve­lope.

For ev­ery­one else, please visit CoverVA.org for ac­cess to the on­line ap­pli­ca­tion, or call the Cover Vir­ginia Call Cen­ter at 1-855-2428282 to ap­ply for health cov­er­age by phone.

Equally im­por­tant, if you are cur­rently re­ceiv­ing a sub­sidy and you now qual­ify for Med­i­caid, you must also sign up, then dis­en­roll from the Mar­ket­place be­cause you will lose that sub­sidy.

Achiev­ing health­care cov­er­age for more Vir­gini­ans was one of my proud­est mo­ments as a leg­is­la­tor, be­cause I rec­og­nize the hard­ship that liv­ing un­healthy and with­out ac­cess to care can have on an in­di­vid­ual and an en­tire fam­ily.

Dur­ing this hol­i­day sea­son take the time to make sure those clos­est to you get the care they need and get signed up for Med­i­caid. If you still have ques­tions, join me on De­cem­ber 3, 2018 at Path­ways in Peters­burg from 6-7 p.m. for more in­for­ma­tion on Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion and hands-on guid­ance to get en­rolled.

Del. Lashrecse D. Aird rep­re­sents the 63rd District in the Vir­ginia House of Del­e­gates. The 63rd District in­cludes all of the City of Peters­burg and parts of Hopewell, Din­wid­die County, Prince Ge­orge County and Chester­field County.

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