While Congressman Goodlatte seems especially eager to inform his Sixth District constituents about his recent visit to a drug-smuggling tunnel and his inspection of border wall samples, he has been notably silent about an issue much closer to home– the imminent threat to the health insurance that covers 65,000 children and 1,100 pregnant women in Virginia.
The [Virginia] Department of Medical Assistance Services, or DMAS, has to be ready by the beginning of December so it can give families at least 60 days notice that their children will no longer be covered by the program when money runs out at the end of January.
“Congress is acting as if it’s just a matter of when the money runs out, and they’re not acknowledging the work and the investment that states have to make in trying to do this in the least chaotic way possible,” said Linda Nablo, DMAS’ chief deputy director.
Amidst wrangling over repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Congress didn’t meet a deadline to renew the program, often called CHIP, that has previously enjoyed bipartisan support.
Unless state lawmakers decide to pick up the multi-million-dollar tab, thousands in Virginia will lose coverage.
The result would look would like this: a child with asthma who loses health insurance will have nothing to prevent future asthmatic episodes and will almost certainly end up in the emergency room, said Dr. Richard Bennett, a pediatrician at the Bon Secours Richmond Community Hospital.
“The coverage that would have cost a few dollars to hundreds of dollars will now cost a family thousands to tens of thousands of dollars,” Bennett said.
With the health of nearly one-third of children in the Sixth District insured by CHIP and/or Medicaid, you’d think the impending crisis would be at the top of Goodlatte’s agenda. But perhaps his apparent lack of concern was foretold in 2009, when he voted in Congress against a law that extended CHIP coverage to four million children without health insurance.