Washington, D.C. – Less than a year after Democrat Ralph Northam was sworn in as Virginia’s Governor, 200,000 people have already gained access to health care as a result of Medicaid expansion which officially took effect yesterday.  Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, released the following statement in response:

“Elections matter, and nowhere is this more clear than in Virginia. Virginia Republicans spent years rejecting Medicaid expansion, but Virginia had its highest voter turnout in the past two decades in 2017, electing Democrats up and down the ballot, clearing a path for Medicaid expansion. Over the past two years, five states have voted to expand Medicaid, a clear and direct rebuke to the Trump Administration’s ongoing sabotage agenda on Medicaid and Americans’ health care. Make no mistake, from Virginia and Maine to Idaho, Nebraska and Utah, elections matter and hundreds of thousands of Americans are gaining access to life-saving coverage and rejecting the ongoing Republican war on health care which continues to this very day.”

What does Medicaid expansion mean for Virginians?

AP: More Than 200,000 People Have Already Been Enrolled. “Thousands of uninsured, low-income Virginians will have new health care coverage starting in the new year. Virginia is joining more than 30 states that have expanded Medicaid, a key part of former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul… The state’s Medicaid office has been working with hospitals, advocates for the poor, insurance companies and others to help enroll the newly eligible into Medicaid. Coverage starts Jan. 1 and the state said Friday that more than 200,000 people have been enrolled.” [Bradenton Herald, 12/31/18]

WSLS: “More People In The Commonwealth Have Access To Health Coverage.” “More people in the commonwealth have access to health coverage starting today.  That’s because Virginia joins 32 other states in expanding Medicaid coverage. This will give more adults between the ages of 19 and 64 access to quality low-cost and no-cost health insurance.” [WSLS, 1/1/19]

Delegate Sam Rasoul: “It’s Been A Long Process But Is Fantastic.” “‘It’s been a long process but is fantastic. Over the past couple months, there’s been open enrollment. And 200,000 Virginians have already been signed up into Medicaid and have health care coverage and many others, for the first time ever, starting today. And we still have another couple hundred thousand to go,’ said Delegate Sam Rasoul.” [WSLS, 1/1/19]

Casey Thompson, 21-Year Old Virginian: “It’s Massive.” “Casey Thompson, a 21-year-old who has been uninsured for two years, said she lost all her savings when she had to go to a hospital in May for a ruptured cyst. She said she is thrilled she’ll be covered under Medicaid expansion starting in January and will no longer have to worry about unexpected medical costs. ‘It’s massive,’ she said.” [Bradenton Herald, 12/31/18]

What spurred this change?

AP: Expansion Occurred After 2017 Democratic Wave Election, GOP Repeal Attempts. “Opponents argued that Medicaid expansion was fiscally irresponsible because the long-term costs are unsustainable. Several factors contributed to Republicans switching position on the issue after years of opposition. They include a Democratic wave election in 2017 and the inability of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans to repeal Obama’s signature health care law.” [Bradenton Herald, 12/31/18]

Was this mindset limited to just Virginia?

Lincoln Journal Star: After Republicans Refused, Nebraskans Voted To Expand Medicaid. “After seven years of legislative refusal to expand Medicaid in Nebraska, voters in November extended coverage to an estimated 90,000 adult Nebraskans who are working at low-wage jobs. That decision will bring a projected $1.3 billion in federal funding flowing into the state during the first three years of the new program.” [Lincoln Journal Star, 12/28/28]

Forbes: After Republicans Refused, Idahoans Voted To Expand Medicaid. “Idaho voted Tuesday to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act via ballot initiative, overcoming conservative Republican state legislators who refused for years to pass additional coverage for the state’s poor. With nearly 60% support and two-thirds of the votes counted, voters in Idaho were following the lead of voters in Maine who last November voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in a public referendum at the ballot box. Supporters of Idaho’s Medicaid expansion put it on Tuesday’s midterm general election ballot after their Republican-controlled legislature for years balked at the idea.” [Forbes, 11/7/18]

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Medicaid Expansion Makes Sense “Both Fiscally And Socially.” “Experts and the evidence agree, increasing access to MAT is one of the most important policy changes we could implement to combat the opioid epidemic. They also agree that Medicaid expansion is a key move that could be made to improve access; it is the largest source of funding for treatment. Medicaid, which has broad public support, covers the poorest, most marginalized people in our communities who often have some of the most complicated health care needs. In the past, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program had a high-caliber reputation. Like all state Medicaid programs, BadgerCare is jointly financed by the state and federal government, which has a generous matching structure for any state dollars spent. As Wisconsin’s opioid mortality continues to skyrocket above the national average, expanding Medicaid here makes sense both fiscally and socially.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1/2/19]