Closing the Coverage Gap: Every Legislator, Every District

January 11, 2018

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by Laura Goren and Michael Cassidy

Hundreds, and even thousands, of residents in every legislator’s district stand to gain health coverage. But only if Virginia lawmakers close the coverage gap.

Across the state, 240,000 low-income people are stuck in the health care coverage gap. They are unable to get quality, affordable coverage through the federal insurance marketplace because they don’t make enough money, and they can’t qualify for Medicaid because they make too much.

During the 2018 legislative session, Virginia lawmakers have a key opportunity to close this gap and to promote the wellbeing of their constituents and the Commonwealth of Virginia as a whole.This issue brief provides the latest estimates of the number of low-income Virginians without health insurance who could gain coverage in each state House and Senate district, as well as in each locality.

Determining Who Can Get Coverage

Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau produces updated data that can be used to determine the number of Virginians who could gain health insurance coverage if state lawmakers close the coverage gap. Using that data, we determined the number of uninsured people who lived within the boundaries of each legislative district and who could be eligible for coverage if lawmakers close the gap. Those eligible are between ages 19 and 64 and have incomes below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level – for example, $16,643 for an individual and $28,180 for a family of three in 2017.

The estimates in Tables 1 and 2 include the number of people who could gain coverage by state Senate and House district. The estimates include only those people who lived within the boundaries of the legislative districts and could gain coverage.

Table 3 breaks out the number of people who could gain coverage for each locality in Virginia.

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Sample of table showing the number of constituents in each House district that could gain coverage if lawmakers close the coverage gap.

Opportunity for Coverage

Virginia lawmakers have the opportunity to help more of their low-income constituents gain access to the health care they need by closing the coverage gap. For example, closing the coverage gap would mean a family of three that earns between $10,524 and $28,180 a year could now get health coverage. Many of the people who could get coverage are working in the most important sectors of the state’s economy – retail trade, health, social services, and construction – and yet they struggle to get the coverage they need. That’s because their jobs often don’t offer health insurance or pay them enough to afford coverage even if it is offered.

The state could draw down billions in federal funding from a program Virginians are already paying into, contributing a mere fraction of the cost – never more than 10 percent. Plus, the state would save money and could invest it in directly addressing our state’s opioid crisis and improving our behavioral health system.

Lawmakers Should Close the Coverage Gap

When people have access to health coverage and can take care of their medical needs, they are more likely to get needed care, are more financially secure, and are more productive.

Virginia lawmakers need to accept the federal dollars already allocated to the state for closing the coverage gap, so that hundreds, and even thousands, of people in their districts can get the coverage they need to be healthy and productive.


Coverage Gains by Senate District Coverage Gains by House District Coverage Gains by Locality

Medicaid Expansion Helps People in Every District: Main Page


Get the Report, Medicaid Expansion Helps People in Every District (pdf)

Read the Release (pdf)