Executive directive aims to improve access to health care

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RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- An effort to get more Virginians enrolled in affordable health care coverage has been kicked off.

On Tuesday, Governor Ralph Northam issued an executive directive that aims to ensure access to affordable health care coverage for all of Virginia's residents.

Medicaid expanded earlier this year, which did provide access to more than 325,000 eligible Virginians who have since enrolled, but according to a release, meaningful health care coverage is still unaffordable for many, due in part to federal policies that have increased the cost and decreased the quality of what is available.

“Health coverage should be both meaningful and affordable, but unfortunately, policies from Washington threaten to increase the number of families who are uninsured or underinsured,” said Northam. “It's more important than ever that we identify and implement policies at the state level that control costs and ensure that Virginians can afford to buy health insurance that covers their health care needs.”

The directive requires the Commonwealth to explore strategies to reduce health insurance premiums across the state and protect from federal uncertainty.

The release says the Secretary of Health and Human Resources along with the Secretaries of Finance and Public Safety and Homeland Security will be reviewing policies and programs.

They will then take action to promote greater access to and enrollment in health insurance coverage.

The Secretary of Health and Human Resources will also work with other state genies, community partners, providers, health plans and policymakers in order to make changes to existing policies and processes to create sustained improvement in access to health care coverage.

Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, M.D. says health care is an economic issue for many people and having affordable coverage can allow families to maintain employment, pursue their educations, or have money for personal investments.

Under the directive, data-driven strategies will be developed to create efficiencies in coverage and improve outcomes.

There will be a special focus on vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, justice-involved populations, non-English speaking populations, people with disabilities, and youth in foster care among others.

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