One of every 68 children in this country has now been diagnosed with some degree of autism – a disability that makes it difficult for them to communicate and learn. Virginia requires insurance companies to pay for an intensive treatment called Applied Behavior Analysis until the age of seven, but parents say care should be available for as long as a child needs it, and a bill making its way through the legislature could lift the age limit.
The deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable care act is about two weeks away. Under the law, anyone without a plan in place by February 15th will face fines.
For many, the process is confusing and even daunting, but if you haven’t signed up yet and would like to, there’s still time. A non-partisan group called “Enroll Virginia” is offering free help over the phone or in person for anyone who has not chosen a health coverage plan.
Virginia’s Medicaid program provides healthcare for poor children, the elderly and disabled, but working adults rarely qualify. Experts say as many as 400,000 people could get insurance if the state were to expand its Medicaid program, but there’s another reason why some lawmakers support that idea – it could be good for the economy.
Opponents say Virginia can’t afford to expand Medicaid - even with the federal government paying 90-100% of the bill, but supporters say failing to expand the program will be even more expensive.
Virginia’s hospitals are required to treat anyone who comes to their emergency rooms, and they’re spending about $600 million a year on charity care. Meanwhile, state lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid, and the federal government is cutting payments for Medicare. Unless something is done, some hospitals say they may be forced to close.
Patricia Springer owns a small business – Moonbeam Massage. She’s happy to help people who’ve suffered an injury or illness, but since the great recession began, business has been slow.