In 2018, Virginia became the 33rd state to adopt expanded Medicaid coverage. Virginia’s Medicaid Expansion program went into effect on January 1, 2019. This expansion was a long-awaited victory for many Virginians, and it has had a positive impact on the health of many individuals and families across the state. Let’s take a look at how this expansion has improved access to healthcare in Northern Virginia and how it will continue to benefit residents in the future.
Access to Care for Low-Income Individuals
The primary purpose of Medicaid is to provide access to healthcare for low-income individuals who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Medicaid expansion opened up access to two low-income groups. First, it opened up access to adults who do not have any children. Second, it expanded the qualifying income for individuals to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) which allows people who previously earned too much to qualify before to now be eligible. Before the expansion, parents were only eligible if they earned up to 38% of the FPL. By expanding eligibility requirements, more people are now able to receive the care they need without having to worry about cost. This is especially important for those with chronic medical conditions or disabilities that require ongoing care and treatment.
Improved Access to Mental Health Services
In addition to providing access to physical health services, Medicaid expansion has also led to an increase in access to mental health services as well. The increased funding provided by the expansion has allowed providers to offer additional mental health services such as counseling, therapy, medication management, and substance abuse treatment. These services have been invaluable for many people struggling with mental illness or addiction who may not have been able to get help before due to lack of insurance coverage or financial resources.
Adapting During Times of Crisis
Medicaid expansion has also proven its worth during times of crisis such as natural disasters or pandemics like COVID-19. Due to the increased funding provided by the program, states can quickly adapt their Medicaid programs when necessary, in order to cover additional costs associated with emergency situations. This allows them more flexibility when responding quickly and effectively during times of crisis.
More Than 170,000 Northern Virginians Enrolled
According to Northern Virginia zip code level data received by the Northern Virginia Regional Commission through special request from the Virginia Department of Medical Services, the cumulative number of members enrolled at any time between January 1, 2019 and April 26, 2023 is more than 170,000 residents of the region are enrolled in Medicaid as part of the expansion. Expansion has made access to such services as treatment for Addiction and Recovery, Asthma, Cancer, COPD, Diabetes and Hypertension possible for those who did not have regular access to health care services.
An interactive map of those services received by residents of Northern Virginia can be found here: https://nvrc.maps.arcgis.com/apps/instant/portfolio/index.html?appid=b4339caff586426bb83157b9742ca555
Overall, Medicaid expansion has had a positive impact on Virginia’s healthcare system by increasing access for low-income individuals and providing additional funding for mental health services and emergency situations. Thanks in part to this program, more people are now able to get the care they need without worrying about cost or availability.