Letter to the Editor: Close the health care coverage gap

“Although many of the legislators appear intransigent, as people of faith we will continue to advocate, importune and pray.” — Kim Bobo, executive director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Feb. 23.
The struggle to close the health care coverage gap in Virginia appeared to be lost in the General Assembly, but people of faith are stepping up. As I wrote to Sen. Jill Vogel, “I know that we are supposed to move on and accept defeat, but I am a person of faith and I remember the words of Dr. King, ‘The time is always right to do what is right.'”
Last week I joined 300 faith leaders from across the state of Virginia, including several from the Winchester area, in signing a public letter calling upon the General Assembly to close the health care coverage gap. The letter explains that health care coverage is a moral imperative and fundamental human right. Specifically, 400,000 Virginians could get affordable health care coverage if we closed the coverage gap – 5,000 hard working people in Winchester and Frederick County, and another 15,000 in Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah, Fauquier, and Loudoun counties.
Virginians in this health care coverage gap include low-income working adults, veterans, people with disabilities and those under 65 who are ineligible for Virginia’s restrictive Medicaid program (ranking 48th in the country in per-capita Medicaid spending).
We call upon our lawmakers to access available federal funds by supporting legislation and/or budget provisions to expand coverage. Denying Virginians needed health care is not only mean-spirited, it is also an unnecessary economic drain on our hospitals, communities and state government. Virginia loses more than $4.4 million per day by not closing the health care coverage gap.
These 300 faith leaders are calling on legislators to restore funding to the budget to close the health care coverage gap. Doing so is morally and economically right. We ask for people of good will to join us in this effort to ensure that all Virginians can get the health care they need to remain healthy, productive members of our community.
John D. Copenhaver, vice chair of Board of Directors, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy