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Mental Health Advocates Defend Medicaid Expansion - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Mental Health Advocates Defend Medicaid Expansion

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As Virginia lawmakers search for a compromise on Medicaid expansion in the state budget, mental health advocates are speaking up.

Five groups descended on the state capitol Wednesday to raise awareness for an estimated 77,000 uninsured adults living with mental illness in Virginia.

Advocates say expanding health coverage is the "missing link" to solving the state's mental health crisis.

“There are people who are one step away from a serious crisis that could land them in the hospital, perhaps in jail or some other situation that we all would like to avoid,” said Mira Signer, executive director of the Virginia chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

She says the "Marketplace Virginia" plan proposed by the state Senate could pump $1.2 billion into the state's mental health system between 2015 and 2022.

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