RICHMOND _ When Barry Noel lost his job five years ago he had difficulty finding and affording health insurance for his family, including five children.
“I was 58 years old, I had been successful, I had a college education and a successful career,” said Noel, 63, of Montpelier. “My employer closed their facility and that put me out of work.”
Noel and his son James, 17, of Montpelier were among nearly 200 AARP members who urged Virginia lawmakers today to expand Medicaid. AARP and several other organizations are asking the General Assembly to approve a budget that includes expanding the Medicaid guidelines to provide coverage to 400,000 people, 62,000 of them between the ages of 50-64.
Expanding Virginia’s Medicaid income guidelines to 133 percent of the Federal Poverty Level tops the AARP Virginia policy priority list. The General Assembly is considering a budget amendment that would extend coverage to more needy Virginians. AARP has more than 1 million members in Virginia.
“Currently, Virginia’s Medicaid program is one of the most restrictive in the nation,” said AARP Virginia State Director Bill Kallio. “Childless adults are not covered regardless of income and families of three can’t earn more than $6,000 a year.”
AARP Virginia is part of a coalition of organizations urging the General Assembly to expand Medicaid. Expansion of the program will:
- help the working poor afford the care they need. The adult(s) in a family of three making just $6,000 a year do not qualify for Medicaid. Individuals 50- to 64-years-old (without children) do not qualify for Medicaid regardless of income. Many Virginians living in poverty do not qualify for Medicaid and cannot afford private health care insurance --even with subsidies that will be offered through the health exchange.
- be a fiscally responsible path for Virginia: The ACA provides 100% funding for the first three years and then no less than 90% in the outlying years for 400,000 individuals.
- keep health care affordable for all. If Virginia fails to expand Medicaid hospitals that serve the uninsured will lose more money. Private health insurance premiums will rise if fewer people are in the insurance risk pool.
- boost Virginia’s economy. Over a 10-year period, Virginia would receive over $20 billion in federal funding which would support an estimated 30,000 jobs in Virginia.
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with nearly 35 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; and our website, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.