McAuliffe Announces System to Blend Medicare & Medicaid - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McAuliffe Announces System to Blend Medicare & Medicaid

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Governor Terry McAuliffe says a major healthcare reform will make it easier for some of the state's most vulnerable citizens to get the care they need.

Virginia is the third state in the country moving forward with a "coordinated care" system, to better serve those who qualify for both Medicaid and Medicare services - mostly poor elderly or disabled adults.

“It's going to give 78,000 Virginians and their families a peace of mind of knowing that when they need something, they know where to go,” said Department of Mental Assistance Services (DMAS) Director Cindi Jones.

Those 78,000 people represent a little more than three quarters of Virginia's dual-eligible population who will be able to volunteer for Commonwealth Coordinated Care (CCC) in five different regions across the state. The Richmond and Tidewater areas began enrollment earlier this week, with the Charlottesville area scheduled to start May 1. DMAS expects half of those eligible to enroll.

State health officials say it will make getting critical care easier for 78,000 dual-eligible people, and may also help pay for things not currently covered, like hearing aids, dental care, and vision. On top of that DMAS estimates coordinated care will save the state $126 million over the next two years.

At a press conference Thursday, McAuliffe used the healthcare reform announcement as a jumping off point, saying it's time for state lawmakers to get serious about expanding Medicaid health coverage to as many as 400,000 low-income Virginians under the Affordable Care Act.

“We are now ready to take the next step by accepting the federal funds and bringing those funds back to Virginia and closing the coverage gap,” said McAuliffe.

House Republicans remain reluctant.

“Any way you slice it, this is an expansion of the Obamacare,” said 73rd District Delegate John O’Bannon.

As they have for more than a year, lawmakers continue to clash on the merits of expansion, a debate that will more than likely send the General Assembly into extra innings after Saturday's scheduled adjournment.

In a procedural vote Thursday, House Republicans voted to extend the regular session for 30 days. Senate Democrats voted down that proposal, all but ensuring lawmakers will return to debate Medicaid and the state budget during a special session.

From the bully pulpit Thursday, the governor laid blame on those he feels are holding up the negotiations.

“The House of Delegates and the Republicans have been absent from these negotiations. 'No, no, no, no' is not a way to negotiate,” said McAuliffe.

But House Republicans believe the budget is priority number one; the Medicaid discussion, they say, can come later.

“We're not just saying no here, we're saying that we need to have a debate. We have serious questions about the plan,” said O’Bannon.

The 2014 regular session of the Virginia general assembly is scheduled to adjourn sine die Saturday March 8.

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