Human Services Position Statements - 2011 Legislative Program

Health Care Reform (Regional)

Support improvements in the state Medicaid program that increase access to services, particularly preventative services, resulting in lower overall health care costs.

 The 2010 federal health care reform law contains many new directives for states and employers in providing health care coverage.  A particularly significant provision for states is the expansion of the Medicaid program, which currently provides health care services for people in particular categories (low income children and parents, pregnant women, older adults, persons with disabilities).  Virginia’s current eligibility requirements are so strict that although it is the 12th largest state in terms of population, it is 48th in per capita Medicaid spending. 

Due in part to that restrictive eligibility, the Commonwealth has already expressed concerns about the increased cost of this service expansion, but as Virginia begins the implementation of this new law, the state must be mindful of the potential impacts on localities.  The Commonwealth should:

  • Seek innovative methods of achieving cost containment through greater efficiencies, more targeted service delivery, and the use of technology to reduce Medicaid fraud, but avoid the implementation of traditional, outmoded and inflexible managed care;
  • Work with local governments to provide appropriate flexibility and/or resources that may be necessary to effectively respond to the new federal law; 
  • Provide a smooth transition for those newly eligible for Medicaid services;
  • Avoid actions that could shift costs to localities, including weakening the social safety net by restricting access or reducing funding for services.

Ensuring success will require close cooperation between the Commonwealth and local governments, as localities are frequently the service providers for the Medicaid population. (New position.)

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