The Virginia Senate has adopted a budget that includes Medicaid expansion called “Marketplace Virginia,” but the budget adopted by the House of Delegates does not include any Medicaid expansion. Right now the Virginia General Assembly is in a special session to decide what to do.
The benefits of Medicaid expansion are well known — $2 billion a year in federal tax money coming back to Virginia; 30,000 new jobs; 400,000 people eligible for health insurance.
Details on the specifics of “Marketplace Virginia” include: cost sharing requirements of “up to” 5%; a Virginia Taxpayer Recovery Fund to capture the federal money; incentives for job search and work activities; eligibility for everyone under 100% of the poverty level; plans that cover the essential health benefits; stresses on additional funding for mental health services; and clear language that Virginia will discontinue coverage if the federal money is reduced below promised levels.
The current political situation is a tense stand-off between the state Senate and the Governor who support Marketplace Virginia (as does the Chamber of Commerce, consumer and community groups, the Hospital Association and the health insurance industry) and the House of Delegates, which has dug in its heels against Medicaid expansion no matter how much good expansion can do for Virginia.
PLEASE CONTACT YOUR MEMBER OF THE VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES NOW and urge him or her to support Marketplace Virginia. EVERY ADDITIONAL CALL OR LETTER MAKES A DIFFERENCE! See http://virginiageneralassembly.gov/ to find your state Delegate and his or her contact information.
New federal rules were recently announced delaying the employer mandate a little bit more. Employers with between 50 and 100 employees will not have to provide health insurance to their full-time employees until 2016, rather than 2015. Employers with 100 or more employees will still need to provide health insurance in 2015 or face what could be significant fines.
Due to a surge of last minute sign ups, over 8 million people have bought health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Combined with the 4 million people added to the Medicaid rolls and the 2 million people under age 26 added to their parents’ health plans, a lot of people are benefiting from health care reform.
The Washington Post is reporting that a Gallup Poll just found that the percentage of Americans without health insurance just hit the lowest level since 2008, 15.6 percent See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/07/percentage-of-uninsured-americans-hits-lowest-point-since-2008/
Virginia Organizing’s Grassroots Gathering will be held the weekend of September 5-7 in Blackstone, Virginia, west of Petersburg. The gathering will bring together community leaders from across the state. There will be lots of workshops and opportunities to learn about organizing on a variety of issues.