|RICHMOND, Va. – Today, ahead of the Jan. 16 open enrollment deadline, Senate Education and Health Committee Chair Ghazala Hashmi, House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Mark Sickles, Director of Virginia’s Insurance Marketplace Keven Patchett, and advocates joined Protect Our Care to discuss the success of Virginia’s Stated-Based Marketplace, and their plans to build on this progress during the 2024 legislative session.
Thanks to Virginia’s new state marketplace, 2023 enrollment increased by 12% compared to 2022 enrollment numbers, with nearly 90% of people enrolling in coverage being eligible for cost savings and financial assistance.
The creation of Virginia’s marketplace is authorized by the Affordable Care Act and legislation passed in 2020 by Delegate Mark Sickles and now-Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, who was at the time a state Senator. After receiving approval from the federal government to create its own Exchange, the Virginia State Corporation Commission began the process of creating the infrastructure for Virginia to create its own state-regulated Health Benefit Exchange program. The Marketplace was created for Virginia, by Virginians, and is the only place consumers can qualify for financial assistance to help lower the cost of coverage and care. This is the first year that Virginia’s Insurance Marketplace has replaced healthcare.gov. It is available for all eligible Virginians who are not insured by their employer, do not have affordable coverage, Medicaid, or Medicare.
State advocates highlighted the impact of the new marketplace on Virginia families and joined lawmakers in reminding everyone in Virginia to sign up for a plan before open enrollment closes on January 16 at 11:59 p.m.
“We have made huge progress together to enable more Virginians to access affordable health care for their families,” said Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan. “I’m proud to have worked with my friend, Del. Sickles, to create the Virginia health exchange, and I’m excited that so many Virginians have signed up so far this year. I encourage Virginians still looking for coverage to explore the state exchange before the enrollment deadline on January 16. I look forward to continuing my work in Congress to strengthen health care for Virginians, and I know that state legislative leaders will work this session to protect and expand health care access.”
“More people are getting enrolled and almost all of them are getting help to pay their insurance; that’s why it’s so affordable,” said Delegate Mark Sickles, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee. “So to everyone listening today, please take the time to ensure you and your loved ones enroll in a plan before open enrollment closes on Jan. 16. That means you should text a family member or post on social media.That can help us spread the word that open enrollment is closing.”
Additionally, the lawmakers expressed their continued commitment to strengthening access to affordable health care in the upcoming legislative session.
“Governor Youngkin has shared that he wants to bring down the cost of living in Virginia; he did so also just in his latest State of the Commonwealth address this week,” said Senator Ghazala Hashmi, Chair of the Senate Education and Health Committee. “So what better way to do so than to bring down the cost of health care? I hope that the Governor is ready to work with us and the legislature on this topic. We are in need of lowering the costs of prescription drugs and making significant investments in Medicaid and mental health support, and I hope that we are all able to work together to continue to make health care a right for all, and not a privilege just for the select few.”
“Our priority at the exchange is to do our part to reduce the number of uninsured in Virginia, but also to assist those who are going through a transition in coverage,” said Keven Patchett, Director of the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange. “Whether you’ve lost Medicaid, or you’ve had a change in professional life and now your employer-sponsored coverage is now no longer available, please come to marketplace.virginia.gov and let us help you.”
“As we approach the end of Open Enrollment this Tuesday, January 16th, I am reaching out to those who have not yet enrolled,” said Ruth Alburez, a Health Care Navigator at Legal Aid Justice Center. “Your health is important and you still have time to secure the coverage you need for a healthy and prosperous year ahead.”
“This country is built on the entrepreneurial spirit of small business owners and the innovation of creators who often don’t have the benefits of big corporate employers,” said Traci Franssen, a small business owner in Chesterfield County. “The insurance offered through the Affordable Care Act and the state exchange empowers us to do what we love without sacrificing the security of health.”
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which authorized the creation of Virginia’s exchange, young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and people with pre-existing conditions like cancer cannot be discriminated against or denied health coverage,” said Katie Baker, Protect Our Care Virginia State Director. “Furthermore, small business owners and self-employed Virginians can easily obtain coverage through the marketplace. We’re encouraging everyone in need of insurance to sign up by 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 16.”
You can watch the event here, and learn more about ACA open enrollment and how new benefits in the Inflation Reduction Act are lowering costs for Virginians here.