Category Archives: Blog

Join VCV at the 13th Happily Natural Day in Richmond

Happily Natural Day banner image


Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare and our parent organization the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy will be exhibitors at the 13th Happily Natural Day at Plant Zero in Richmond’s Manchester district on Saturday, August 30, 2015. 

Happily Natural Day is a lifestyle festival dedicated to holistic health, cultural awareness and social change held annually in Richmond, . Every summer the festival provides patrons with a fusion of educational workshops, music and merchandise targeting individuals with socially conscious and ecological responsible world-views.

Click here for tickets – we hope to see you there!

Medicaid expansion: Gaining consensus?

Gapinforgraphic  11-19-13In the first debate among the leading Republican candidates in the 2016 Presidential race, Ohio Gov. John Kasich became a crowd favorite with a call for helping all Americans get ahead. Some of his responses during the debate centered on his decision to expand Medicaid in Ohio, despite his stated opposition to Obamacare.

In a ModernHealthcare piece about Kasich’s comments at the debate, he’s reported as responding to a question about why he expanded Medicaid by saying, “To do what? To treat the mentally ill. Ten thousand of them sit in our prisons, and it costs $22,500 a year to keep them in prison. I would rather them get their medication so they can lead a decent life.” Kasich continued his case for why he expanded Medicaid in his state, “And finally, the working poor, instead of having them come into the emergency rooms where it costs more, where they’re sicker and we end up paying, we brought a program in here to make sure that people could get on their feet.”

Despite partisan lines being drawn over healthcare reform, and Medicaid expansion, across the US in the five years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, history shows that both sides of the aisle have worked to make healthcare accessible and affordable for all Americans through government intervention.

Teddy Roosevelt, in his 1912 run for the Presidency on the Progressive Party ticket (Roosevelt had already been in the White House as a Republican, 1901 to 1909), called for “The protection of home life against the hazards of sickness, irregular employment and old age through the adoption of a system of social insurance adapted to American use” in the 12th plank of the Progressive Party’s Social and Industrial Justice platform. Roosevelt’s run on a third party ticket was not successful, but his party’s platform was the first to put healthcare reform in its national platform.

It took until July 30, 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed into law legislation that established the Medicare and Medicaid programs, as part of his “war on poverty”. During his five year tenure as President, the poverty percentage declined from 22% to 13%, the greatest one time decline in poverty in our nation’s history.

Then, Richard Nixon, in his Special Message to the Congress Proposing a Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan on Feb. 6, 1974, said to Congress and the American people, “First, even though more Americans carry health insurance than ever before, the 25 million Americans who remain uninsured often need it the most and are most unlikely to obtain it. They include many who work in seasonal or transient occupations, high-risk cases, and those who are ineligible for Medicaid despite low incomes.” Nixon had tried to create a national healthcare system in 1971, but had not been successful in getting Congress to act on the idea. He revisited it in 1974, when he proposed CHIP as a comprehensive national health insurance program for all Americans. CHIP ultimately passed only as a program for children of low-income parents during Bill Clinton’s presidency.

Ronald Reagan’s two terms in the White House saw expansion of the Medicaid program, with the White House looking to put the Medicaid program fully under federal control in a “program swap” proposed in 1981, where the states would take over food stamp programs and Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC). In the mid-’80s, Medicaid expanded coverage for low-income pregnant women, after an Institute of Medicine report in 1985 showed that every $1 spent on prenatal care saved $3.38 in care for low birth weight babies, and in the 1988 budget, President Reagan signed off on expanding Medicaid to prevent families from being impoverished by nursing home costs.

Given the bipartisan history of American healthcare reform efforts, it would seem that expanding Medicaid in all 50 states, including Virginia, would be something that all American citizens would see as a moral imperative and a good investment. Our hope is that the Virginia General Assembly would listen to the case for that moral imperative, and join 31 other states and D.C. by expanding Medicaid in the Commonwealth.

Medicare 50th Anniversary Could Be Bigger Win for Virginians

Medicare-Medicaid 50th anniversary banner imageOn July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson, as part of his war on poverty, signed the amendment to the Social Security Act that created Medicare and Medicaid. In the 50 years since, millions of Americans have gotten access to healthcare through both programs, helping keep them healthy members of their communities. Because Medicaid eligibility differs from state to state and Virginia has not taken advantage of the opportunity to expand eligibility, there is still work to do to close the coverage gap, currently making quality, affordable healthcare out of reach for up to 400,000 Virginians.

Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare is supporting a 50th Anniversary Celebration of Medicare and Medicaid on Wednesday, July 29 from 5 to 7pm at Grandy Village Learning Center, 2971 Kimball Loop, Norfolk, VA and Thursday, July 30, from 12 to 2pm at the Hampton Senior Center, 3501 Kecoughtan Rd., Hampton, VA. Both events will feature US Dept. of Health & Human Services Region 3 Director Joanne Grossi, along with a Coverage to Care panel discussion, and information on 2016 Medicare & Affordable Care enrollment updates.

Some quick facts about how Medicaid expansion would positively impact Virginia:

  • $1.64B in coverage funding would come to Virginia through 2022 (and the Federal government will continue to fund the coverage at 90% of costs thereafter)
  • Medicaid expansion would add 20,000 jobs to the Virginia economy
  • 25,200 military veterans or their families would be able to access care they cannot get through the Veteran’s Administration

In the 50 years that the Medicare and Medicaid programs have been in existence, the federal government has honored its commitment to Medicaid funding for all 50 states. The states themselves must elect to expand Medicaid, however, in order to cover uninsured people who don’t earn enough money to get tax credits to buy health insurance on the state or federal exchanges. Since Virginia’s legislature has not opted to take the Federal money to provide coverage, many of Virginia’s lowest income residents are locked out of access to quality, affordable healthcare and putting pressure on hospital emergency rooms and safety-net clinics to provide care.

Virginia Consumer Voices works to build and sustain a broad-based consumer-focused coalition which includes patients, community and religious organizations, small businesses, organized labor, community health centers, and advocacy organizations to support the expansion and improvement of health care in Virginia. Given our mission, we’d really like to see Virginia close the gap by expanding Medicaid in this 50th anniversary year.

3-Day Healthcare Mission in Wise County July 17-19

RAM clinic photo

RAM clinic photoWhen you think of remote area medical clinics, you might think of Haiti or Nepal in the aftermath of major earthquakes, or West Africa confronting an ebola outbreak. There are remote areas in need of medical services in the US, too, and one of them – Wise County in southwest Virginia – will be the location of a medical mission event that’s part of a collaboration between The Health Wagon, Remote Area Medical, and the Virginia Dental Association Foundation.

This is the second year for the Wise County event, which last year served 2,244 people – both adults and children – with medical, vision, and dental services valued at almost two million dollars. A major part of our mission at Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare is to help all of Virginia’s citizens access quality, affordable care. At the recent event we co-hosted with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the leaders of The Health Wagon, Dr. Teresa Gardner and Dr. Paula Hill-Meade, shared stories from their travels throughout Appalachian Virginia in their medical-office-on-wheels, providing care for people with little or no access to quality care in their area.

The Wise County event should attract at least as many people as it did in 2014. There are still opportunities for medical, dental, and vision clinicians to volunteer their services, and there is also a call for educational exhibits. Information on how to sign up for Wise RAM is available here – we’ll post an update about the outcomes from Wise RAM in the coming weeks. If you’ve volunteered for a RAM event, or have received care from The Health Wagon, we’d love to hear your stories.

VCV Statement on King vs. Burwell Supreme Court Ruling

We are pleased that during this 50th anniversary year since the passage of the Voting Rights Act and the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, another landmark action to promote social justice has been taken. Today the Supreme Court released its decision on King v. Burwell, the case that considered whether those who live in states which operate under the federal health insurance marketplace would continue to receive subsidies.

The Court affirmed 6-3 that the these subsidies are lawful. Because Virginia participates in the federal marketplace, 286,000 Virginians who depend on those subsidies in order to pay their premiums every month can continue to receive the care that they need to stay healthy. The ruling confirms what we have known all along – the law was designed to provide a tax credit to any American who qualifies, regardless of the type of Marketplace they use.

We must now all turn our attention to the 400,000 Virginians who do not have access to affordable health insurance.