Highlighting Medicaid services

Published 6:20 pm Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Eligible residents can participate in an expansion of Medicaid that allows more people to receive services than before, according to Director of Buckingham Department of Social Services Stephanie Coleman during a presentation Jan. 14.

Coleman spoke to the Buckingham County Board of Supervisors about the Medicaid expansion program. Sign-ups for the expansion began in November. Coleman said sign-ups have been relatively low in the county so far, more than 120 applications for Medicaid expansion.

She said there has been an increase of sign-ups that started in January.

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She said while exact numbers weren’t yet available, she said initial estimates of those who qualify in Buckingham County could total approximately 900.

More than 400,000 people in Virginia are eligible for the expansion, Coleman said.

“This program is designed to provide access to quality, low cost health insurance,” Coleman said.

According to information concerning the program at coverva.org, Virginia residents ages 19-64 can apply for the expansion.

Changes to Medicaid for Virginia include allowing childless adults to qualify if their annual income is at or falls below $16,754. A family of three would be eligible for Medicaid if their annual income is at or falls below $28,677. A person with a disability is eligible if their annual income is at or falls below $16,754.

Medicaid services can cover costs for doctor, hospital and emergency services, laboratories and X-rays, maternity and newborn care, long-term care and support services, rehabilitative physical therapy, medical equipment, addiction and recovery treatment services, and preventative and wellness services.

The changes took effect at the beginning of 2019.

Coleman said to the board that the process to implement the expansion has been “a whirlwind.”

She said the state has been in contact with the area DSS office. The expansion has meant new policies, changes to the office’s computer system and hiring and training new representatives, Coleman said.

Coleman said the majority of the expansion has been paid by federal and state funding, not incurring costs from the county.

Coleman said there is a chance that the county may need to provide a match for the upcoming budget year, which could come to approximately $16,000. This allocation could fund Buckingham DSS staff to receive ongoing applications and perform required annual determinations.

District Six Supervisor Joe Chambers asked if the partial government shutdown could have an impact.

The shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has cut funding to several federal agencies and approximately 800,000 government employees.

Coleman said she was unsure if the shutdown could have an impact on funding. She said federal funding is involved with the Medicaid expansion program. She said it has had an impact on the SNAP program. The program has funding through January and February, but funding past that time, if the shutdown continues, has not yet been determined.

The Herald contacted the Office of the Governor in Virginia to determine whether the shutdown could affect Medicaid expansion funds. Christina Nuckols with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services responded to the inquiry. She said federal funds pay for 93 percent of costs for care of newly eligible adults in 2019, and 90 percent in 2020 and future years. She said the partial federal government shutdown would not affect the funding.

District Four Supervisor Morgan Dunnavant asked whether the $16,000 match would cover costs related to the 120 applicants who have signed up, or the anticipated total of 900 people.

Coleman said the potential funding would cover costs for employees who are processing the applications.

To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit www.coverva.org/expansion.