Delegate Roslyn Tyler, left, speaks with Director of Virginia Department of Medical Services Dr. Jennifer Lee during Thursday’s health forum.
By MARK MATHEWS
Roslyn Tyler, 75th District state delegate, invited Director of Virginia Department of Medical Services Dr. Jennifer Lee to Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center Thursday to provide an update and inform the public on the impact of Medicaid expansion since the law went into effect in the Commonwealth on Jan. 1.
As a 29-year employee of Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center, Tyler said healthcare is a top issue for her.
It is also a concern she hears from her constituents while hosting town halls or talking to people in the street or at church.
“One of the main issues that come up in Southside Virginia is the accessibility and affordability of healthcare,” Tyler said. “Health is certainly a problem here in Emporia and surrounding counties.”
By the end of May more than 284,000 newly eligible Virginians have enrolled in Medicaid under the new rules approved by the Virginia General Assembly. Lee said that covers approximately 70 percent of Virginians that qualify and her department is working toward getting all eligible citizens to take advantage of the services offered. In Emporia-Greensville 525 Medicaid members have enrolled since the beginning of the year.
The groups most impacted by the Medicaid expansion are those with a disability, parents in a family of three and childless adults. Those with a disability had an income limit of less than $10,000 before the expansion. That number has increased to $17,237. Parents and a child now qualify with a household income of $29,436. Before the expansion the limit was an income of $8,112. A childless adult currently qualifies for Medicaid with an annual household income of $17,737. Previously childless adults did not qualify for Medicaid.
There are currently six Virginia Medicaid Managed Care plans available for those who qualify. The plans are Anthem Healthkeepers Plus, Aetna Better Health of Virginia, INTotal Health, Kaiser Permanente, Optima Family Care and Virginia Premier Health Plan. The plans are all contracted with the state. They all have minimum standards they must meet, but Lee said some will offer extra service in order to keep customers.
“They may offer dental,” Lee said. “That is an incentive for you to go with them. We want them to compete to offer more for members of the Commonwealth. That’s a good thing — that competition. That only works if you have choice.”
One piece of the legislation bringing Medicaid expansion to Virginia is a work requirement. That rule has not gone into effect, but Lee expects it to happen sometime during the summer. The first part of the deal was to get the expanded coverage. The work requirement will have to be approved by the federal government, though some will be exempted, such as the disabled, caregivers, those in school, pregnant or homeless.
Lee said citizens can go to the website coverva.org or the Department of Medical Services website at www.dmas.virginia.gov to learn if they qualify for the Medicaid expansion and the services offered through Medicaid. She wants to see citizens getting the best healthcare available to them.
“Our goal is to have every member when they interact with Medicaid to be treated with dignity, respect and to have their wishes honored,” she said.