Medicaid Expansion + Free & Charitable Clinics = A Healthcare Opportunity
As of 2016, an estimated 700,000 Virginians under the age of 65 lacked health insurance – about 10 percent of the nonelderly population of the state. In 2018, Virginia's legislature and governor agreed to take part in the federally-funded expansion of Medicaid, which broadened the eligibility of Medicaid to include adults ages 19-64 whose incomes fall within 138% of the federal poverty line (e.g. $17,237 for a single adult or $29,436 for a family of three). This Virginia law took effect on January 2019, making the Commonwealth the 33rd state in the country to expand Medicaid.
If you think you might be eligible for new health coverage for adults, you can apply for health coverage in any of the following ways:
- Call the Cover Virginia Call Center at 1-855-242-8282 (TDD: 1-888-221-1590) to apply on the phone Mon - Fri: 8:00 am to 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm.
- Complete an online application at Common Help: www.commonhelp.virginia.gov
- Complete an online application at The Health Insurance Marketplace: www.healthcare.gov
- Mail or drop off a paper application (Spanish) to your local Department of Social Services (Mailing may take longer than other methods of applying). Find your nearest local department of social services by visiting: http://www.dss.virginia.gov/localagency/
- Call the Virginia Department of Social Services Enterprise Call Center at 1-855-635-4370 (If you also want to apply for other benefits)
SUPPORTING FREE & CHARITABLE CLINICS THROUGH EXPANSION
Medicaid expansion means more healthcare for more people, and the impact on the overall health of Virginia's citizens will be profound. Virginia's network of free and charitable clinics are proud to be a partner and advocate for increased access to health care. With Virginia's expansion of Medicaid, health coverage broadened to include to an additional 400,000 people throughout all corners of the state. Even so, an estimated 300,000 Virginians, most of whom are working families, will remain uncovered, caught between incomes that are too high to qualify for expanded Medicaid coverage yet too low to afford health insurance, given the cost of other essential needs like housing, food and transportation. Currently, four out of five uninsured Virginians come from working families.
Medicaid Expansion Means Critical Role for Virginia's Free Clinics
To take care of their ongoing, routine and preventative healthcare needs, these 300,000 Virginians must rely on the Commonwealth's traditional healthcare safety net – including the private network of more than 60 free and charitable clinics across the state. Funded through a combination of charitable donations, earned income and state funding, these community-based facilities provide critical healthcare services mostly through the use of volunteer healthcare professionals to people who would otherwise have no place to turn. The collective operating budget of the clinics is an estimated $40 million annually, about one-sixth (16%) of which is provided through an annual state appropriation. Through partnerships and efficiencies, clinics turn the $40 million into $191 million in care each year.
The expansion of Medicaid in Virginia has been long awaited and will dramatically transform access to care. As a consequence, the role of Virginia's network of free and charitable clinics has never been more critical. They are the safeguard protecting hardworking families that have no other health care options.
As major players on the front line of Medicaid expansion in Virginia, Virginia's free and charitable clinics are experiencing a time of rapid change and mounting challenges. Clinics are having to evaluate their business models and evolve their operations and infrastructure to best accommodate new realities in a post Medicaid expansion state. Through all this change and transition, the need for clinics, now and in the future, is indisputable. Where Medicaid stops, clinics begin.
VAFCC is committed to bringing our member clinics current information to help support them through the process of Medicaid expansion and to share information that will be helpful to patients. For those lacking health insurance and access to care, free and charitable clinics have always been there to provide comprehensive, quality care -- and they will continue to do so.