For Immediate Release: September 8, 2014
Contacts: Office of the Governor Contact: Rachel Thomas Email: rachel.thomas@governor.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Announces Measures to Expand Healthcare Services to Over 200,000 Virginians

~Launches 10-step plan that will reach Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens~

 

Today Governor McAuliffe launched A Healthy Virginia, a 10-step plan to expand healthcare services to over 200,000 Virginians. This plan is an unprecedented action by any governor in Virginia history and includes authorizations of four emergency regulations, one executive order, and innovative and creative solutions to expand healthcare to Virginia veterans, children, and families.   

“As governor, there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the health and safety of the citizens you serve. That is why I am so proud to stand here today and unveil ‘A Healthy Virginia’ – a plan that will improve the lives of more than 200,000 citizens throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Through my plan, I am taking action by authorizing 4 emergency regulations and issuing 1 executive order that will address urgent health needs and put us on a pathway toward Building a New Virginia Economy. However, these steps are just the beginning, and we must continue to press forward together to achieve better health for all of our citizens.” 

Governor McAuliffe’s Plan: A Healthy Virginia
A Healthy Virginia

Step 1: Covering people with serious mental illness   

The Governor will launch the Governor’s Access Plan, or GAP, to make sure real health care reforms reach our neediest citizens. 

This new and innovative plan will provide medical and behavioral health care to approximately 20,000 uninsured Virginians with severe mental illnesses. 

Under Virginia Code Section 2.2-4011, Governor McAuliffe will authorize his staff to start the emergency regulation process and work with CMS on the needed waiver for this coverage.  

Step 2: Improve the coordination of care for adults and children who are already covered by Medicaid and have a serious mental illness 

Governor McAuliffe is authorizing the Department of Medical Assistance Services to issue regulations to establish health homes for individuals with severe mental illness. These health homes are not physical spaces, but instead, are a model of care in which all of an individual’s primary, acute, behavioral, and long-term care services are coordinated and integrated. 

By implementing this program with minimal investment, Virginia can get a 90 percent match rate of federal money. This is a fiscally responsible step that will provide 13,000 of the neediest Virginians the quality care they need.   

Steps 3 & 4: Sign up more Virginians for the Federal Marketplace, Medicaid, and FAMIS   

Unfortunately, in recent years enrollment numbers for Medicaid and FAMIS have declined and Virginia is below the national average in enrollment. Governor McAuliffe is determined to reverse that trend. 

Governor McAuliffe will leverage federal and state resources to help enroll an additional 35,000 children in FAMIS and 160,000 people in the federal marketplace for health insurance. 

CMS has approved the use of $4.3 million in federal health care funds to communicate with Virginians about the opportunities they have to access coverage, and on August 15th Virginia applied for an additional $10 million that will further amplify Virginia’s outreach efforts. 

This outreach campaign will inform Virginians about coverage options that are already available through the federal marketplace, Medicaid and FAMIS. 

Step 5: Open up FAMIS for eligible state workers to insure their children 

Governor McAuliffe is directing DMAS to issue an emergency regulation making FAMIS available to the children of lower-income state workers. 

By opening up this program to children of Virginia’s state workforce, Virginia can provide 5,000 children access to affordable, high-quality, and comprehensive health care. This is also a smart business practice as well since it will shift some of the costs of care from the state budget to the federal government. 

Step 6: Provide dental benefits to pregnant women in Medicaid and FAMIS 

Governor McAuliffe is directing DMAS to issue emergency regulations to provide comprehensive dental coverage to 45,000 pregnant women in Medicaid and FAMIS. 

When a woman becomes pregnant, having access to good dental services is imperative for a healthy delivery and baby.  Adding dental coverage for pregnant women enrolled in Medicaid or FAMIS MOMS will reduce the prevalence of preterm birth, cut-down on emergency dental expenditures, and decrease the state’s cost of dental care for children.  

Step 7: Launch an innovative new website to inform Virginians of their coverage options and help them enroll 

To make it easier to apply for coverage, a new and improved Cover Virginia website will be launched by this November. The Governor and his team will ensure that the Cover Virginia website is more user-friendly, has all the information our citizens need, and makes it as easy as humanly possible to apply for coverage through our existing programs. 

Step 8: Accelerating access to quality health care for our veterans 

A recent report showed Virginia ranked last in the nation in the number of VA hospitals and clinics available, per capita, to meet the needs of our rapidly growing veteran population.  Governor McAuliffe is committed to changing the dynamic of veteran access to health care in the Commonwealth. 

Working with their counterparts in the Veterans Health Administration, Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel and Secretary of Veterans and Defense Affairs John Harvey will lead Virginia's efforts to take full advantage of the recent legislation signed by President Obama that made $10 billion in federal money available to veterans to seek health care outside the VA system if they have barriers to access. 

Step 9: Take bold actions to reduce deaths from prescription drug and heroin abuse 

Last year, more Virginians died of overdose than were killed in car accidents. The prescription drug problem has reached a crisis in Virginia, where some county death rates are the highest in the entire nation. 

Under Governor McAuliffe’s plan, he will act to significantly reduce the number of drug-related deaths in Virginia and will create the Task Force to Combat Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse. 

Step 10: Aggressively pursue Federal grants that can bring new dollars into Virginia for health care 

Governor McAuliffe has directed his staff to pursue every federal grant currently available for health care and innovation. 

Virginia, in partnership with the Virginia Center for Health Innovation, has applied for $2.6 million in federal funding through the CMS State Innovation Model grant program.  If approved, this funding will help the Commonwealth realize a broad vision for statewide health care reform that improves the health of all Virginians and will help to build a New Virginia Economy.

 

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