After a last-ditch effort by anti-expansioners on Tuesday, and a long 4-year battle in the Senate, Virginia has become the 33rd state to expand Medicare. This is a huge step in the right direction for approximately 400, 000 low-income Virginians. This plan will go into effect January 1st; representing a 40% increase in the number of people covered by Medicaid, a much bigger expansion than most other states.
Under the new plan, the federal government will pay 90% of the cost. This is about $2 billion a year for Virginia. To be eligible under the current plan, an individual can make no more than $9700/year. The new plan allows people who make up to $16,750/year to enroll.
The Senate took a huge step in the right direction, with 19 GOP delegates voting for expansion. However, despite the coup, the new plan isn’t perfect. Most adult recipients who don’t qualify for disability must either be working, volunteering, or actively seeking a job. What this means is that people who are currently applying for disability may not qualify for Medicaid, leaving them in limbo while they await either disability benefits or Medicaid.
Despite the potential for people to fall through the cracks of the system, the expansion is a hopeful sign that the Senate is capable of reaching bipartisan decisions based on their constituents’ welfare and best interests.