An essential part of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's mission is ensuring that all Americans have access to quality, affordable healthcare. For several years, advocates and lawmakers all over Virginia have been fighting for the expansion of accessible healthcare, and historically, Virginia's representatives took one great leap towards achieving that!
Thursday afternoon, Governor Northam signed Virginia's new budget for the biennium that begins July 1, which includes the expansion of Medicaid! This expansion of access to healthcare is historic for Virginia and is an amazing step toward improving the cardiovascular health and well-being for hundreds of thousands across the Commonwealth.
With 53% of current adults who utilize Medicaid having a history of cardiovascular disease or stroke, Medicaid is a vital source of health insurance coverage for patients experiencing heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD). With this new expansion, Medicaid will become an even more vital source of health insurance coverage for uninsured adults with or at-risk for CVD. People, ranging from 19 to 64 years old who earn less than 138% of the federal poverty level, will now become eligible for Medicaid. For example, an adult in a household of three members, the annual income cutoff would increase from $6,900 up to $28,677, and for single adults who were previously not eligible for coverage, the annual income cutoff will become $16,754. That is an estimated 400,000 low-income Virginians who are expected to become eligible for healthcare coverage beginning January 2019 under the expanded guidelines!
Medicaid beneficiaries are 20% more likely to receive preventative care, such as been checked for high cholesterol, and additionally, are more likely to have their blood pressure controlled, compared to those who are uninsured., Medicaid expansion ensures that low-income populations have access to services such as preventative medicine, which includes annual check-ups, smoking cessation, and nutrition assistance, all of which are extremely important in preventing CVD and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. Additionally, CVD effects minority populations, such as many racial and ethnic groups disproportionately. This issue is intensified when minority populations face additional barriers to quality and affordable healthcare. With the new Medicaid expansion, health disparities among populations will continue decrease and cardiovascular health will continue to increase.
Finally, we want to say thank you to all the advocates and lawmakers who have worked tirelessly for the past few years to ensure that all Virginians have access to quality, affordable healthcare! This increase in healthcare coverage will result in greatly improved cardiovascular health for Virginians all over the state. We are extremely thankful for Virginia's representatives who have continuously put the health of Virginians at top priority.
Send a thank you to the Virginia lawmakers for budgeting with heart and expanding access to quality healthcare.
 "Talking Points: Why Medicaid Expansion Is Needed for Heart Disease and Stroke Patients," American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (blog), accessed June 8, 2018, http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@adv/documents/downloadable/ucm_447912.pdf.
 Alan Suderman and Associated Press, "Virginia Governor Signs Budget, Medicaid Expansion," Virginian-Pilot, June 07, 2018, accessed June 08, 2018, https://pilotonline.com/news/government/virginia/article_2baf545f-0163-5f5d-8d5e-3b50dad7ddd7.html.
 "Cover Virginia - Medicaid Expansion," Welcome to Cover Virginia, accessed June 08, 2018, http://www.coverva.org/expansion/.
 “2018 Medicaid at a Glance”, Department of Medical Assistance Services, accessed June 08, 2018, http://www.dmas.virginia.gov/Content_atchs/atchs/MAG%202018%20FINAL.021518.pdf
 Amy Finkelstein, et al., “The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment: Evidence from the First Year,” The National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Paper 17190, issued July 2011, available online at http://www.nber.org/papers/w17190.
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