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Statement: Virginia Medicaid Expansion To Help 400,000 Virginians Get Coverage, But Work Requirement Leaves Too Many Behind

Moments ago, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the state budget, which included a historic expansion of Medicaid eligibility to as many as 400,000 low income Virginians. However the budget, which has passed through both houses of the Virginia state legislature, also included a requirement that newly-eligible Virginians meet arbitrary work requirements for their coverage, which could limit their access to Medicaid.

In response to today’s news, Maani Stewart, National Training and Consumer Education Manager for Young Invincibles issued the following statement:
“After years of gridlock, Virginia’s decision to become the 33rd state to expand Medicaid means that as many as 400,000 low-income Virginians will finally have access to primary care, emergency room visits, maternity care, and more. Today, we celebrate alongside the Virginians who will benefit from their newfound access to health insurance that covers vital health services.
However, the victory does come at a cost: the majority of the newly-eligible Medicaid recipients will be subjected to rigid and unnecessary work requirements that can limit Virginians’ access to Medicaid coverage. The vast majority of Medicaid recipients who are able to work already are working, and most of those who aren’t struggle with illness or disability, are taking care of a family member, or are attending school. Work requirements are a solution in search of a problem that adds a new, punitive barrier to Virginians getting access to affordable care.
While today’s budget signing is a momentous step toward ensuring every Virginian can access the care they need, there is more work to be done to ensure that restrictive work requirements don’t limit Virginians’ ability to seek treatment.”