Today Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia is one of only four states to have been awarded a $9.3 million federal grant to hire more than 100 enrollment assisters who will help state residents sign up on the Federal Marketplace for health insurance starting November 15. The federal grant will play a large role in helping Governor McAuliffe implement his “Healthy Virginia” plan to expand health care to more than 200,000 Virginians.
“This federal grant will boost my administration’s efforts to help Virginians get access to the health care they need,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe, who received the news Tuesday morning in a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “We will use this money to put more boots on the ground to make sure individuals and families find the best low-cost insurance options for them, and to make sure they know about the financial assistance that is available.”
During the initial 2013-14 sign-up period, Virginia’s state government was not an active participant in educational and outreach efforts. However, more than 216,000 Virginians purchased health plans. Unfortunately, an estimated 300,000 Virginians who are qualified for tax credits if they purchase insurance on the Federal Marketplace remain uninsured.
As part of his “Healthy Virginia” plan, Governor McAuliffe announced last month that he has set a goal to enroll up to 160,000 more Virginians on the Marketplace during the enrollment period that extends from November 15 to February 15.
The federal grant awarded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services enables Virginia to partner with the Virginia Community Healthcare Association and the Virginia Poverty Law Center and deploy more than 100 paid enrollment assisters across the Commonwealth.
“This is a major step forward for Virginia,” said Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Bill Hazel. “I am particularly pleased that some of the individuals who are in the Medicaid coverage gap will qualify for financial assistance on the Marketplace.”
The Virginia Community Healthcare Association is a nonprofit association representing 28 federally qualified health centers and one rural health clinic. The association trained and oversaw certified application counselors during the initial sign-up period. The grant and partnership with Virginia will enable it to step up outreach and enrollment activities this fall and winter.
“The Virginia Community Healthcare Association is delighted with this opportunity,” said Neal Graham, Chief Executive Officer of VCHA. “This will enable us to provide funding to the Community Health Centers and other community partners to place enrollment staff at the local level. As we learned last year, local staff make all the difference in assisting persons in making the important choices about the purchase of health care coverage; and health care coverage makes all the difference in people’s lives.”
“We are very excited about this opportunity to help more Virginians know about and enroll in affordable health insurance options,” added Jill Hanken, staff attorney for the Virginia Poverty Law Center.
As part of Virginia’s campaign to enroll state residents, the state will launch an improved website next month atcoverva.org with user-friendly links to health care options and educational resources. The state also will begin a major media campaign this winter to increase awareness about the importance and availability of health insurance. A family of three with an income between $19,790 and $79,160 may be eligible for tax credits when purchasing insurance on the Federal Marketplace.