Beginning on Jan. 1, thousands of low-income, uninsured Virginians now receive new health care coverage as the state expands Medicaid benefits, with 200,000 new participants already enrolled, per WHSV.
Virginians have fought a long battle over the Obama-era health care expansion, mostly between party lines. Democratic governor Ralph Northam and his party members have a loss of Republican seats to thank for the change. Republicans say Medicaid expansion would be expensive, but Democrats argue that the state government would actually save money. As things are now, Virginia splits cost with the federal government 50/50, but with the new expansion, Virginia will only pay ten percent of expansion costs.
Even though the expansion took effect on Jan. 1, the fight continues. When creating the bill, Republicans necessitated that Medicaid participants would be required to have a job or participate in pre-approved community engagement and pay a portion of the premiums. The state has since asked that those conditions be waived, considering the nature of its low-income participants. It could be months before those changes are brought into effect, especially if the partisan fights continue.
It’s important to remember that this political battle underlies a lot of positive change. Virginia is confident in its ability to handle the wave of newly insured Virginians, and it’s already adapting to accommodate those people. Managed care organizations or private insurance companies,= that have already covered Virginians for years will expand their enrollments to account for new clients. The state is also hopeful that greater autonomy for nurse practitioners will mean the opening of more clinics in rural areas where healthcare is hard to come by.