Governor McAuliffe announces federal approval, launch of Governor’s Access Plan

state-capitol2Governor Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday announced the launch of the Governor’s Access Plan, or GAP, which will provide vital medical and behavioral health services for 20,000 individuals who have a serious mental illness and are uninsured.

GAP is the first step in the Governor’s A Healthy Virginia plan. GAP will serve as a bridge program until the legislature expands Medicaid. It is targeted to assist individuals with significant health needs who face profound difficulty in obtaining care.

In a press conference at Chester House, a facility operated by the Chesterfield County Community Services Board, Governor McAuliffe announced that individuals began signing up for the program on Monday.

“Ladies and Gentleman, the GAP program is now taking applications,” said Governor McAuliffe. “In a few days, individuals across the Commonwealth will have access to critical services and supports they need. When provided with the care they need, people are healthier, and they can recover, live, work, parent, learn, and participate fully in their community.”

Health officials with the Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS), the state’s Medicaid agency, have spent the past four months developing the GAP program, which was announced during the unveiling of A Healthy Virginia on Sept. 8, 2014.

In partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, DMAS successfully negotiated and received federal approval to administer GAP through a Section 1115 Waiver on Jan. 9.

In the past year, more than 300,000 Virginians experienced a serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or PTSD. Out of that 300,000, more than 50,000 are uninsured and have little to no access to any type of health care. For those who are eligible, the GAP program will provide access to primary medical and behavioral health care, as well as provide a way for these individuals to get their prescriptions filled.

Individuals and caregivers are encouraged to seek more information about the program. Uninsured Virginia residents who are 21-64 years old and have a mental illness should contact their local Community Services Board, Federally Qualified Health Center, or go online to Cover Virginia, Virginia’s health insurance website ( to see if they qualify and to receive help beginning the application process. Individuals can also call the Cover Virginia call center 1-855-869-8190 or TDD at 1-888-221-1590 to make an application.

The GAP program is a top budget priority for the Governor. The program will cost $13 million this year, with the federal government providing an equal match. In the second year of the budget once the program is fully engaged, the state cost will be about $77 million, again with a matching amount from the federal government. The state share will come from savings within the Medicaid program.

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