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Patient Advocates From Across Virginia Visit the State Capitol to Address State Budget Cuts to Medicaid
Date:3/3/2010

Patient Advocates Encourage State Lawmakers to Protect State Medicaid Funding to Ensure Patient Access to Affordable, Quality Care

RICHMOND, Va., March 3 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- More than 20 patient advocates from across Virginia descended on the Capitol in Richmond today as part of the National Patient Advocate Foundation's (NPAF) Virginia State Lobby Day to ask state legislators to reconsider budget cuts to the state's Medicaid program with particular attention to maintaining full funding for children and pregnant women covered through FAMIS.

"I am excited and honored to be part of NPAF's Virginia State Lobby Day," said Brian Lundblad, a NPAF patient ambassador from Chesterfield. "Educating legislators about the vital importance of stable Medicaid funding is essential because for thousands of patients throughout the state, life depends on the availability of quality healthcare.  Medicaid coverage can literally save lives by allowing patients to access needed care following a diagnosis."

Virginia's Medicaid program, which currently provides healthcare coverage to approximately 692,000 low-income individuals and families, is facing deep cuts.  Of the $2.2 billion in budget cuts currently under consideration by the state's legislature, the Medicaid program faces one of the biggest hits, with proposals for cuts ranging from $262 million to over $325 million, including suggestions to cap eligibility or freeze enrollment for the state's Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  The CHIP freeze, if adopted, could result in reduced access to care for approximately 28,000 children and pregnant woman.  The Virginia Medicaid program provides a vital safety net to Virginians who can't afford healthcare coverage.  Additionally, Virginia is to be commended for its support since 2007 of uninsured Virginians who do not qualify for Medicaid through the Virginia Cares Uninsured Program (VCUP).

The proposed Medicaid cuts in Virginia are only further punctuated by a sizeable increase in the state's unemployment rate.  In December 2009, the state's unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent, and this rate is expected to grow in 2010; therefore, forcing more state residents to enter the Medicaid program.  For many unemployed individuals and their families, Medicaid allows them to access needed healthcare without cost or financial status being a barrier to care.

"Medicaid is undoubtedly one of Virginia's most valuable programs, and we will continue to work with our state leaders to ensure that this program is funded to meet the growing needs of our state's citizens," said Nancy Davenport-Ennis, President and CEO of NPAF.  

NPAF and its companion organization, the Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), were established in 1996 on the principle that health care is a basic human need and shared social responsibility.  NPAF is dedicated to working with Congress and all levels of government to overcome challenges and create solutions that will allow for high-quality, affordable health care for all. In 2009, PAF case managers assisted 55,369 patients, each with chronic, life-threatening or debilitating conditions struggling to access health care.  Additionally, PAF responds to millions of online requests for information or chat line support.  For more information see www.npaf.org.

SOURCE National Patient Advocate Foundation

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