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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) – Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s signature health-care program is under fire by Republicans, who allege it isn’t sufficiently popular and is actually more harmful than helpful.
McAuliffe has defended his health care law and made no apologies for what would be the most ambitious expansion of state control over health care since Virginia was founded in 1607.
But he says the law’s success is undeniable as the first state to enroll uninsured Virginians in coverage through a public, federally-run insurance exchange – something only about half of the states have done.
One lawmaker is threatening a special session, which McAuliffe says would be necessary to address the problems the law is facing.
Here are five things to know about McAuliffe’s program:
WHAT IS THE HEALTH CARE LAWS PROGRAM?
The law is the first of its kind, with a $250 million-a-year per-capita commitment from the state to expand coverage to all adults without health insurance, regardless of their incomes. It became reality in 2013, with the opening of a new state-run health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion for low-income people.
The goal to sign up every adult for coverage through the program is being expanded to all adults, a measure that was previously limited only to children.
The system requires all residents to get insurance or pay a fine, and includes a range of coverage options, from vision and dental to prescription drugs.
It covers everyone, regardless of age and family structure, and was built to help close a major gap in health coverage created by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Virginia is the latest state to join the national expansion of the health law, signed by President Barack Obama in 2014.
WHAT IS VIRGINIA’S PROBLEM WITH HONING THE PROGRAM?
The law, despite its lofty name, has been criticized for failing to make coverage more affordable or to help people pay for it, as the federal government has promised.
McAuliffe’s office acknowledged the law’s “challenges” in 2017, after a state audit showed the program exceeded its cost projections by $15 million, to cover only