The 2013 General Assembly Session begins on Wednesday, January 9th. This year’s 45-day session will undoubtedly prove to be a whirlwind of debate as legislators tackle issues such as uranium mining, public education, transportation funding, and a number of pressing health care issues. Chief among these will be the reform of Medicaid and extension of coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Send a MessagePlease take a moment now to Send a Message to your legislators that Medicaid needs to be reformed and coverage extended. Legislators need to hear from you, their constituents, in order to realize how important this opportunity is for Virginia.

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The ACA contains some of the most drastic Medicare and Medicaid cuts that Virginia hospitals have ever experienced if Virginia takes no action. By 2022, the federal government will have cut more than $4.5 billion from Virginia hospitals and health systems due to the ACA. As these cuts are realized, services and jobs will be jeopardized and existing coverage programs, such as Medicaid, will become significantly more important.

Medicaid is the only source of health care coverage for children, the elderly, the disabled, and the extremely poor. There is simply no other access to health care for them except through Medicaid.

Virginia’s Medicaid program is in significant need of restructuring. Medicaid fails to cover more than 1 million Virginian yet is still one of the largest, fastest growing areas of the state budget. Medicaid recipients tend to be sicker than the average Virginian.

The General Assembly has the opportunity to seek a Medicare waiver from portions of the ACA that will give Virginia the flexibility to fix the Medicaid program. With this added flexibility Virginia can restructure its Medicaid program to control current costs and limit future growth by developing meaningful managed care policies that actually improve the health status of the Medicaid population and rationalize entitlements. With the savings from these improvements, Medicaid could potentially lower costs, improve quality and cover an additional 400,000 Virginians currently without coverage.

If the General Assembly acts now we can access $3.9 billion in funding to accomplish this – minimizing state financial risk. At the same time, Virginia can create an additional 30,000 jobs. If the General Assembly does not act seek this flexibility, the federal government will send the money, Virginia’s tax dollars, to other states for their Medicaid programs.

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