From Us to You
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
There is no question the world as we knew it changed dramatically 4 months ago-- first with the layered impacts of COVID-19, then with the recent wave of nationwide protests and demonstrations against systemic racial injustice in response to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others.
For many, these series of events have created a new and deeply felt awareness of the inequities and disparities that persist throughout our communities, our state, and our nation. As we grapple with the effects of the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism, we, like many others, are taking this opportunity to re-examine ourselves and our focus.
Over the last 28 years, VHCF-funded initiatives have helped Virginians obtain needed medical, dental and behavioral health services; free prescription medicines; and health insurance via the Medicaid/FAMIS programs. While these initiatives have helped many Virginians, including a substantial number of people of color, there is so much more to be done to address health inequities in Virginia. Individuals served by the healthcare safety net, especially racial and ethnic minorities, have higher rates of chronic disease than the general population and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
As Virginia’s only statewide health foundation, we take these disparities seriously and strive to help eliminate them via our ongoing mission of increasing access to primary and preventive healthcare. We, like many of our health safety net partners have been on the frontlines of the fight against health inequity for many years. The challenges are even greater now with the many challenges of creating and maintaining safe environments for patients and staff amidst COVID-19.
The need for a strong healthcare safety net in Virginia remains constant, and will be ever more striking as the Commonwealth continues to see record unemployment levels. We at VHCF remain steadfast in our commitment to being part of the solution to health disparities and to increasing access to much-needed healthcare for uninsured and underserved Virginians.
While these times continue to be challenging, it is our hope that we have reached the crossroad which will ultimately provide all in Virginia the opportunity to live without health inequities and to realize our vision that “all Virginians have access to the health care they need.”
Debbie Oswalt and the VHCF Team
Health Insurance Options for Virginians who have Lost Jobs or Income due to COVID-19
Thousands of Virginians who have lost their jobs or been furloughed as a result of COVID-19 (
and their dependents) are now eligible for Virginia’s Medicaid/FAMIS programs. Current monthly income and family size are the only criteria used to evaluate financial eligibility for this comprehensive insurance, for those under age 65. For example, the following would be income-eligible:
- A single adult Virginian with a monthly income up to $1,469.
- Adults in a household of 3 with a monthly income up to $2,499.
- Children in a family of 3 earning up to $3,711.
The following do not count as income for Medicaid/FAMIS eligibility:
- COVID-19 stimulus checks (Economic Impact Payments from the IRS; up to $1,200 per taxpayer and $500 per qualifying child).
- Additional federal unemployment ($600 weekly). Base unemployment benefits do count.
- Home, land and retirement savings.
VHCF-funded Outreach Workers provide remote, free, one-on-one help to those who want to learn about, apply for, or renew Medicaid/FAMIS coverage. To reach an Outreach Worker in your area, visit the “Find Help in Your Area” page of the Cover Virginia website (
). Outreach Workers can provide 1:1 application assistance remotely, or in-person following physical distancing guidelines. If there is no Outreach Worker in your community, patients can apply online at commonhelp.virginia.gov, or via phone at 855-242-8282.
Some Virginians may now be eligible to obtain health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace due to COVID-related job loss or a reduction in hours. Those in households with incomes up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (
FPL) may also qualify for financial assistance from the Marketplace. If they have lost job-based insurance, these Virginians may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, which would allow them to apply for coverage outside of the Marketplace’s Annual Open Enrollment.
For additional information about health insurance options for those who have lost job-based insurance due to COVID-19, check out
from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
NEW! Application Assisters can Complete and SIGN Applications with Verbal Consent
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia’s Medicaid/FAMIS Application Assisters have found creative ways to continue helping their clients, while complying with physical distancing guidelines. To help Application Assisters provide this vital “assistance from a distance,” the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (
DMAS) now allows Application Assisters to complete
and sign a Virginia Medicaid/FAMIS application on behalf of a client so long as the client has given documented verbal authorization. DMAS has developed the new Acknowledgement of Receipt of Verbal Consent (
ARVC) form for Assisters to document that they have obtained this permission. This means:
The ARVC form should be completed and signed by the Application Assister after a client has given permission for the Assister to complete
and sign the application on his/her behalf. Assisters should continue to use a regular consent form that enables them to follow up with the local Department of Social Services (
DSS), or the Cover Virginia Call Center (
CVCC), on behalf of the client, if s/he wishes to do that.
To use the ARVC form (
after receiving verbal consent from the client)…
Note in the “comments” section that the application has been completed with verbal consent from the client.
Upload the completed ARVC form, along with the application.
…if applying with a paper application:
Mail or drop off the completed ARVC form to the local DSS, along with the completed paper application. Don’t forget to complete Appendix C, so the eligibility worker knows you assisted with the application.
…if applying via phone with the CVCC: Complete the application over the phone.
Let the Customer Service Representative (
) know that you have verbal consent to complete and telephonically sign the application on the client’s behalf. The CSR will advise you of how to submit the ARVC form.
Regardless of which application method they use, Application Assisters should keep a copy of the completed ARVC form for all clients they help. They should also provide the client a copy of the completed ARVC form either by mail, mobile phone photo, or by scanning and attaching it to an email.
Click to see a copy of the form in
. The authorization of verbal consent will expire at the end of the health emergency.
Workshops Online and On-Demand
Thousands of Virginia children and adults are newly uninsured due to COVID-19-related job loss or reductions in hours and need health insurance. Why not take the
online, on-demand version of the
, so you can help them apply for Virginia’s Medicaid/FAMIS programs? On-demand workshops can be completed when it’s convenient for you, wherever you are – one module at a time.
To receive an email notification when in-person
trainings are available, please
SignUpNow teaches the “ins and outs” of the eligibility requirements, application procedures, and post-enrollment information for Virginia’s Medicaid/FAMIS programs:
- New Adult Coverage
- Programs for children and pregnant women
- Plan First (family planning)
- Low Income Families and Children (LIFC) program
- Medicaid for Former Foster Care Youth
Have a question about Medicaid/FAMIS eligibility, or about
, or call 804-828-6062.
Frontline Wellness Website Launched
Workers on the frontline of COVID-19 are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health effects as they try to balance caring for their patients and taking care of themselves and their families. Many are especially susceptible to feelings of stress and anxiety, given the risk associated with treating patients during COVID-19. To help address these stresses, a special website,
, has been developed. It has been designed to bring relief, comfort, and perspective to those at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic. The website offers multiple wellness resources, self-care practices and recommendations, and a space to share and read personal testimonies. All healthcare workers, from administrative leadership to clinical staff, to other staff like medication assistance caseworkers, enrollment assisters, security, and housekeeping, are invited to visit the website and encouraged to share their stories.
We ask that you share information about this site with your staff and colleagues, as well as in your own newsletters. To help spread the word about this new resource, a communications toolkit has been developed with tips and language you can use. Access it
Submitting Documents to Verify Medicaid/FAMIS Eligibility Just Got Easier!
Applicants for Virginia’s Medicaid/FAMIS programs now have a new and easy way to send documents to the Cover Virginia Central Processing Unit (
CVCPU)! If an applicant’s income, citizenship/immigration status, or other information cannot be verified through existing data sources, s/he may need to submit copies of this information for an eligibility worker to process his/her application.
or those helping them to apply
) can scan and upload, attach electronic copies, or take a picture of the requested information, and send it via email to
. It is recommended that applicants/Application Assisters use the email subject line “Requested Verifications for [client’s initials and T-Number]” (
for example: Requested Verifications for E.R. – T12345678
), and list in the body of the email the documents that are attached (
). Be sure the client’s name and contact information are also included in the email, in case the eligibility worker has additional questions or needs more information to process the application.
Please note that this email address is available only for sending information to Virginia Medicaid. Do not send questions to this address; you will not receive a response. If you have questions, please call the Cover Virginia call center at 855-242-8282.
This new email address was created to help individuals apply for Medicaid during the COVID-19 health emergency. DMAS will continue to maintain it as a convenient service to members and applicants. Visit the CoverVA or Cubre Virginia websites to learn more about how to use the new email address,
NEW! Revised Medicaid/FAMIS Renewal Form makes Keeping Coverage Easier
The DMAS and the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) have worked hard to make correspondence received by Medicaid/FAMIS applicants and members easier to read.
The Phase II rollout occurred as planned this month, including the revised Renewal Notice. To see a copy of the Renewal Notice,
Reminder: Medicaid/FAMIS Changes Help Virginians Maintain and Use Coverage During COVID-19
DMAS has taken certain steps to ensure that Virginians who are enrolled in Medicaid/FAMIS remain enrolled throughout the COVID-19 health crisis. These include:
- No Medicaid/FAMIS cases will be closed during this health emergency, unless the client requests the case to be closed, the client dies or the client permanently moves out of state. Medicaid for Pregnant Women and FAMIS MOMS members will remain covered after the 60-day postpartum period ends.
- Use of telehealth (phone and video visits) is billable and encouraged. Telehealth and technical requirements are relaxed.
- Co-pays have been eliminated for Medicaid/FAMIS-covered services.
- Medicaid/FAMIS members can fill a 90-day supply of many routine prescriptions.
- No pre-approvals are needed and approval extensions are automatic for many critical medical services. Out-of-network authorization requirements have also been relaxed.
- If a Virginia Medicaid/FAMIS member is temporarily living in another state during this health emergency, the member stays enrolled in Virginia Medicaid/FAMIS during this time.
As always, Virginia Medicaid/FAMIS covers comprehensive health and mental health services. This includes
testing and treatment for COVID-19.
How should I keep my teeth healthy during COVID-19?
With many families working and learning from home and adjusting to new routines, it’s easy to put aside our dental health. Here are a few tips from
Smiles For Children and the Virginia Health Catalyst to help keep your teeth healthy at home:
- Wash your hands. Aim for at least 20 seconds before and after brushing and flossing.
- Brush at least twice a day. Be sure to get those hard-to-reach spots.
- Floss once a day. This helps remove bacteria and plaque in places your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Limit sticky, sugary snacks like cake and cookies.
- Limit snacking. Snacking often increases your risk of cavities.
- Limit sugary drinks. Soda and fruit juices can harm tooth surfaces.
- Drink plenty of water with meals, and between meals.
- Avoid smoking. Smoking limits blood flow to your mouth, making it easier for bacteria to grow.
- Replace your toothbrush every three months, and don’t let your toothbrush touch other toothbrushes. Replace it more often if you have been sick.
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride. It can strengthen and protect your teeth.
Dental offices are reopening across Virginia, and dentists are taking extra steps to keep you healthy and safe. Here are some things you may see when you go to the dentist:
- The dentist office may look different, some changes you might see include having your temperature taken before your appointment, wearing a mask in the building, and staying 6 feet apart.
- Your dentist may call you before the appointment to ask a few questions about your or your family member’s health. Answer the questions to the best of your ability and stay home if you are feeling sick.
- Your dentist may first talk with you over the phone or through a video call. Many dentists in Virginia are able to see patients right now from the safety of your home.
- Call your dentist if you have a dental emergency, like bad tooth pain, swollen gums or face, bleeding in the mouth that does not stop, or trauma to the face.
Smiles For Children is Virginia’s Medicaid and FAMIS dental program for children and adults. For information about
Smiles For Children, or to find a dentist in your area, call toll-free: 1-888-912-3456.
DMAS Medicaid Expansion Access Dashboard
Helpful COVID-19 Resources
Looking for additional resources or information about COVID-19? Be sure to check out:
- Cover Virginia’s COVID-19 page to learn more about accessing health care, resources for advocates, and measures Virginia Medicaid is taking to fight COVID-19.
- The Virginia Health Care Foundation’s COVID-19 Resource page to learn more about personal health (including behavioral and dental health), and support for families and businesses in the wake of COVID-19.
- The infographics below about the impact of COVID-19 stimulus money and additional federal unemployment on eligibility for public benefits, from the Virginia Poverty Law Center.