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Governor McAuliffe Pushes Medicaid Expansion in Manassas

MANASSAS, Va. — Governor Terry McAuliffe visited the new Evergreen Health Clinic on Liberia Avenue in Manassas on Thursday. He’s touring the state to push for the expansion of Medicaid.

“We have got to close this coverage gap,” McAuliffe told attendees during the meeting. “We cannot gridlock in Richmond on this issue.”

Currently, bridging the Medicare/Medicaid gap has stalled at the state level because the Medicaid / Medicare Innovation and Reform Commission is investigating the best way to make changes to the existing program. McAuliffe said today that he felt waiting for the commission decision was just a stalling tactic, and that Virginia is losing up to $5 million a day in federal healthcare money that is going to other states.

With Republicans and Democrats unable to come to a decision on the health care issue, the state budget has not passed. On March 24, delegates will be back in Richmond in a special session to work on a budget.

Prince William County Delegate Richard Anderson says that state representatives will either figure it out in that special session or continue meeting in sessions until a working budget is agreed upon.

“I kind of think that $5 million lost daily is overstated. Monies from the taxes seem to be in evidence via subsidies we’re getting from the Federal Exchange as people sign up for Obamacare to help with the cost of insurance,” said Anderson (R-Prince William County). “I would like to delink Medicaid reform from the state budget, pass a clean budget and then come back in a year when the Medicaid commission is done and have a sincere discussion about reform.”

McAulliffe spoke about the need to help individuals who are falling through the cracks of the health care system. Afterward, he and Virginia Health Secretary William Hazel sat down with area residents and listened to stories of program shortcomings in Prince William County.

“My daughter is not an addict, she is sick from the side effects of her Multiple Sclerosis Medication,” said Sofia Ionescu, of Manassas.

Ionescu’s daughter Kristina Krauser was diagnosed with MS. As a result of drugs taken for the MS, Krauser now has Bi-Polar Depression and cannot work.

“She worked from age 16, got a college education and at 46 Christina cannot get continuing care for her medical issues. We have no money, no insurance and no social security or disability support. Where can we go?”

Ionescu’s story was just one of several that McAuliffe heard. Men and women from their early 20s through their 50s spoke of the need for help. Most of the people had one or two jobs, but for various reasons, including poverty, age and time restrictions, could not get health coverage.

The Evergreen Health Clinic opened on Monday, March 10 and is expected to serve thousands of people in the Greater Manassas and Prince William County areas over the next year. In addition to primary care, dental, and OBGYN care, the center will also serve as a location to help area residents sign up for Obamacare or Medicaid.

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