Category Archives: Press

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.

Career Talk Radio – ACA Implementation

Kathy May, Director of Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare, joined Gaylene Kanoyton, President of Celebrate Healthcare on Career Talk Radio for a discussion about the implementation of the new health insurance marketplace in Virginia.

Find Additional Jobs Podcasts with The Career Engineer on BlogTalkRadio

Virginia Report – The Affordable Care Act

Kathy May, Director of Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare, and Deepak Madala, Manager, Enroll Virginia, discuss the implementation of the Affordable Care Act with Delegate Ken Plum on his show, Virginia Report.



May: Medicaid expansion opportunity to change lives

Richmond Times Dispatch

On Oct. 1, I had the opportunity to participate in Enrollfest in Hampton Roads where at least 250 people came to learn more about the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Virginia Consumer Voices for Healthcare was one of several organizations that came to help educate and enroll people in health care coverage — some for the first time in their lives.

When I arrived, the atmosphere at the Boo Williams Sports Complex was festive. While the effort to educate and enroll Virginians in health care has been largely a grass-roots effort, clearly, word about the first day of enrollment had spread throughout our communities.

Polite and helpful custodial staff at the sports complex helped us carry in our items and arrange our space. The concession stand opened and attendees enjoyed hamburgers, fried fish and french fries. It felt a little bit like the church bazaars of my youth.

When the stream of people started coming by our table I was, at first, surprised to recognize some of the very same men who had helped us set up just an hour earlier. It was an emotional moment for me to see that the health care law that I have been working on for two years was finally going to make a real difference in the lives of many Virginians, including the very nice gentlemen who had provided me assistance earlier that day.

Then I met Brenda Harrell, a former hairstylist who lives in Hampton and came to Enrollfest hoping to find coverage. “I'm here to get some insurance,” Harrell said. “I've been out of work over a year, I have heart and respiratory failure, and I have been denied access to Medicaid. I haven't seen a doctor for my breathing for over a year.”

Harrell sat down with a certified application counselor but learned that her income of less than $10,000 a year is too much to qualify for Medicaid in Virginia and too little for a subsidy to help her buy a plan on the exchange.

The vast majority of Virginia adults who would gain health insurance under the Medicaid expansion are in low-paying jobs that don’t come with health insurance. Their pay is too low to afford private insurance but too high to qualify for Medicaid under current rules. Others who would benefit include returning veterans, low-income workers and workers who are in between jobs. Medicaid also provides low-wage workers with financial security by reducing the risk of medical debt.

Earlier this year, the General Assembly established the Virginia Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) to evaluate Medicaid reforms and approve extension of Medicaid coverage. This gives MIRC the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of 400,000 uninsured Virginians: veterans, working parents and other low-wage workers – including one woman in Hampton who is currently left out.

On Oct. 15, the members of MIRC will give citizens the opportunity to share their comments about the Medicaid expansion at a public hearing. Virginians also can submit their comments on the MIRC website at








Virginia Legislature to Decide on Medicaid Expansion


ARLINGTON, Va. — The patient had been managing his high blood pressure with medicine prescribed by his doctor until he lost his job and his insurance. As a childless adult, he did not qualify for Medicaid under Virginia's formula, so he cut his medications in half to extend his supply.

What happened next is one example of why the legislature's upcoming vote on revising Medicaid qualifications matters so much to so many.

The patient “had a severe headache and was taken to the emergency room,” said Dr. Basim Khan. “He had suffered a stroke." The stroke left him paralyzed, thereby qualifying him for Medicaid. The state is now picking up half of his Medicaid tab.

Khan, a physician at Alexandria's Neighborhood Health Services, Inc. a clinic in Arlington, VA, said he sees many cases like this–people who make just enough money to be above Virginia's threshold to trigger Medicaid assistance, but not enough to afford health care insurance.

Khan says his clinic serves 13,000 patients a year, 80 percent of whom are uninsured. Another 150,000 uninsured patients attend clinics in nearby counties.

"By and large, these patients are the working poor. They work low-wage jobs, driving taxis, working in restaurants or fast food chains, working in department stores or other small businesses. They make a little bit of money but they don't get insurance and they certainly don't have the money to purchase it," Khan said.

Latino Virginians top the list of the state's uninsured, according to Deshundra Jefferson of Virginia New Majority. Although they represent only 8 percent of the state's population, Latinos represent 33 percent of its uninsured, followed by African and Asian Americans, each at 17 percent, and European Americans at 11 percent.

Jefferson and Khan argued the case for expanding Virginia's Medicaid formula at a recent convening of ethnic media hosted by the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Estimates are that Medicaid expansion could put health care within reach of 400,000 uninsured Virginians.

Revising the Medicaid formula is now part of a larger partisan debate in the state legislature over multiple issues, including increased transportation funding and automatic restoration of voting rights for non-violent ex-felons.

The partisan vote count on Medicaid is shifting towards expansion but timing is crucial. The legislative session ends on Feb. 22. A few of the 20 Republican senators, including the influential Senate Finance chair, joined 20 Democrats to craft a bi-partisan budget amendment that passed Medicaid expansion by voice vote. The state's lieutenant governor, a Republican, also supports the expansion.

The newly proposed Senate budget would require Virginia to put in an initial $1.1 billion into next year's budget but get reimbursed by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act. The state would still have to cover $137 million in administrative costs spread over the next 10 years. Marco Grimaldo, CEO and president of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, says the benefits Medicaid expansion would bring to the state are compelling — including making health insurance available to the elderly, disabled and childless couples like the stroke victim.

"Virginia is stingy when it comes to helping low income people with Medicaid," says Grimaldo. Only six states have a more restrictive Medicaid formula according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Most of those who will benefit from Medicaid expansion in Virginia earn between 30 percent and 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). The FPL takes into account family size. For example, in Virginia, if the adults in a family of three collectively gross $5,800 a year, or just slightly more than 30 percent of FPL, the family is ineligible for Medicaid assistance. Up to a yearly gross income of $19,090, or 100 percent of FPL for a family of three, the state would still not provide Medicaid assistance.

If Virginia opts in for Medicaid expansion now, the federal government will pick up the full costs of covering those in the gap for three years, from 2014 through 2016. Thereafter, the state will never pay more than 10 percent of those costs, "a very good deal for Virginians," Grimaldo notes.

The governor had stripped the $1.1 billion out of his submitted budget, so Medicaid expansion advocates like Grimaldo, Khan and Jefferson are urging the entire legislature to restore those funds as the Senate has done. If it does, the governor could veto the budget, requiring another legislative vote to override.

Grimaldo is optimistic. "On really key votes on certain occasions," he says,"we have seen bipartisan agreement."


New America Media, Video, Article: Khalil Abdullah / Video: Min LeePosted: Feb 15, 2013