Home Governor McAuliffe announces new dental benefit for low-income pregnant women

Governor McAuliffe announces new dental benefit for low-income pregnant women


healthcareGovernor Terry McAuliffe today announced the launch of a new program providing access to dental care for 45,000 low-income pregnant women, an aggressive initiative to improve the health of women and their young children across the Commonwealth.

Pregnant women over age 21 in Medicaid and the FAMIS MOMS program began receiving services through the “Smiles for Children” program on March 1, improving the likelihood of healthy deliveries and healthy babies. The Governor unveiled the program during a visit to Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Dentistry in Richmond, where he also announced other significant achievements made as part of his A Healthy Virginia plan, launched last fall to improve access and quality of health care for thousands of Virginians.

McAuliffe celebrated his success in signing up 208,000 Virginians for new policies on the Federal Marketplace, exceeding his goal of 160,000 enrollments. A total of 385,000 Virginians purchased plans or renewed existing policies during the sign-up period that ended Feb. 15, up from 216,000 last year.

“My health care plan is helping military veterans, pregnant women, people with severe mental illnesses, and hard-working Virginia families,” Governor McAuliffe said. “I’m delighted that we enrolled 208,000 Virginians on the Federal Marketplace this year, which exceeded our goal by 30 percent. Thanks to my health plan, thousands of Virginians are now able to go to the doctor, or dentist, or get the medications they need, without worrying that it will cost more than they can pay. This is what my A Healthy Virginia plan is all about – connecting people to the high-quality, cost-efficient health care they need to be part of my new Virginia economy.”

Virginia successfully pursued a $9.3 million federal grant to put more than 100 additional application assisters in communities around the Commonwealth to help people apply for insurance on the Marketplace.  Additionally, funding from a $4.3 million federal grant supported a TV, digital, radio and bus ad campaign to help spread the word about insurance enrollment. A newly-enhanced, user-friendly website, Cover Virginia (coverva.org), attracted 235,000 visitors during open enrollment.

The Virginia Community Healthcare Association and the Virginia Poverty Law Center’s Enroll Virginia program were crucial partners in helping to ensure that Virginians took advantage of this opportunity to buy affordable health insurance.

“Enroll Virginia assisters worked very long days and lots of weekends to serve as many people as possible,” said Jill Hanken, director of Enroll Virginia. “It’s very gratifying to know we’ve helped so many Virginians get affordable health insurance.”

“The Virginia Community Healthcare Association is very proud to be a part of the collaboration that led to this tremendous success,” said Neal Graham, chief executive officer for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association. “The fact that so many persons enrolled is evidence that we need to continue to strive for means to provide insurance coverage to all the citizens of the Commonwealth.”

Governor McAuliffe encouraged Virginians who were uninsured in 2014 and must pay a penalty with their 2014 federal taxes to take advantage of a special enrollment period from March 15 through April 30. Enrolling in an insurance plan during that period will not eliminate the penalty for 2014, but it will enable the individual to avoid a higher penalty in 2015.

Other accomplishments achieved through A Healthy Virginia include:

  • The Governor won legislative support and funding for the Governor’s Access Plan, which will provide behavioral, medical and prescription drug services to 22,000 Virginians who are uninsured and have a serious mental illness. More than 900 Virginians are receiving services and more than 3,100 have applied so far.
  • Virginia is the first state to leverage new federal legislation and develop provider agreements between Federally-Qualified Health Centers and the Veterans Administration. Under the Veteran’s Choice program, four health centers in 22 locations around Virginia are now accredited to provide health services to eligible veterans.
  • Virginia was awarded a $2.6 million federal health innovation grant last fall to develop new statewide health care models built around a series of aggressive public health goals, such as reductions in tobacco use and improved mental health care.



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.