In a hushed political move, the Richmond Times Dispatch recently reported that Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia is “working quietly” with the federal government to implement the mandated health care exchange per President Obama’s health care reform legislation.
In December of 2012, the McDonnell administration sought $4.8 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to create technology for linking the commonwealth’s human services agencies with the new health care exchange.
According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, “The funding will enable the state to communicate with a federal data center to determine whether Virginians are eligible for Medicaid coverage or subsidies to purchase health insurance through the exchange.”
Although President Obama’s health care reform does not require this technology system to be put into place, the McDonnell administration apparently feels it will be integral for establishing a health exchange that is effective.
Since the beginning of the current General Assembly, a number of bills have been introduced that would direct the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to run a Virginia health benefit exchange while McDonnell has signaled, as early as last week, that he favors a federally managed exchange in Virginia.
The good news for Virginians is that the health exchange appears to be on track for implementation in the not-too-distant future. If this were a transportation project, I would estimate that the exchange would never be completed!
What this means is that over 1 million uninsured Virginians may soon have health care access. That’s more than a political victory, it’s a moral victory as well.
Especially in the wake of the Newtown killings, the need for health care access and mental care access in particular have hardly been more forward in the minds of many Americans and more urgent.
Of course, greater access to medical care is not going to be the end-all be-all for a healthier America. Americans will still need to perform the fundamental health care tasks like exercising, eating and drinking healthily, and the like.
That is, in the end, the ultimate predictor of our own health are our lifestyle habits and not necessarily our access to health care. Eat right and live well and maybe that trip to the doctor won’t be necessary! But if it is, you’ll soon have access to health care.