Over the past 20 years, Voices has been a leader in advocating for improved children’s and family health policies. We support health care reform initiatives in Virginia that increase access to affordable health insurance and quality health care for children and families.
Access to Health Care
Up to 400,000 Virginians fall into the “health care coverage gap” and cannot access the health care insurance and services they need. As an active member of Healthcare for All Virginians (HAV), a coalition of organizations and individuals advocating for accessible and affordable quality health care for all Virginians, Voices strongly supports closing the health care coverage gap for all Virginians through a plan that will ensure that families and children do not fall through the cracks.
This issue is critical for the well-being of Virginia’s working families, as nearly one third (29%) of the adults who fall in the coverage gap are parents of children under the age of 18. That means approximately 120,000 low-income working parents in Virginia have no health insurance coverage and would benefit from this policy change.
Why does that matter?
- Parents with health insurance are more likely to seek health insurance coverage for their kids and take them to the doctor for preventive care.
- When low-income parents have health insurance, their family is less likely to be thrown into financial crisis by unexpected medical bills. That means parents have more resources to spend on meeting their kids’ basic needs, like food, shelter, and clothing.
- Maternal depression has a profound effect on children’s health and development—studies show connections between maternal depression and behavioral problems, injury of children, ADHD, and other health problems. When mothers have access to health coverage and services, they are better positioned to seek and receive treatment for such depression.
- Poverty is the single factor most associated with maternal depression and poor child outcomes, meaning that low-income, uninsured moms in Virginia are at a higher risk for maternal depression.
Providing health insurance to low-income parents has a direct link to the healthy development of children.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
CHIP, known as FAMIS (Family Access to Medical Insurance Security) in Virginia, is the public insurance program for low-income families. It provides affordable medical, dental, and mental health coverage for more than 104,000 children and 4,600 pregnant women in families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to afford private insurance. Along with Medicaid, FAMIS has helped reduce the number of uninsured children in Virginia by 24% from 2008 to 2013.
In 2015, Voices and the Virginia Oral Health Coalition successfully advocated for a two-year extension of the federal CHIP program that was set to expire September 2015. Comprehensive, child-centered benefits and affordable cost-sharing with families make Virginia’s FAMIS program an effective means of ensuring that children in low-income, working families grow up receiving the preventive and primary health care they need to thrive.
For more information about FAMIS programs and eligibility requirements, or help with enrollment, read the CHIP fact sheet.
Project Connect outreach workers provide free one-on-one help to parents and pregnant women with questions about FAMIS programs.
Call SignUpNow for help at 1-804-828-6062.
Go to the CoverVA website.
In 2009, Voices assembled a broad coalition to mount the first-ever comprehensive effort to build public and political support for much-needed reforms in Virginia’s mental health system for children. Through the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health, we have successfully accomplished the following:
- Led efforts to secure $6.65 million in new funds for community-based crisis response and child psychiatry services in communities across Virginia.
- Helped lead the effort to keep the Commonwealth Center for Children and Adolescents open when proposed for closure.
- Fended off proposed cuts to the Comprehensive Services Act funding for kids.
- Cultivated champions in the Virginia General Assembly and mobilized thousands of citizens.
Check out the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health brochure here.
To learn more about the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health and join our efforts click here.
- Intensive In-Home Services for Children’s Mental Health in Virginia: Time to Focus on Quality (July 2012) (Full Paper, PDF) (Executive Summary, PDF)
- Children’s Mental Health in Virginia: System Deficiencies and Unknown Outcomes (May 2011).
- Virginians Speak Out (2010) – summarizes citizen opinion on the current state of children’s mental health services in Virginia.
- 2009 SCHIP Reauthorization (October 2008)