From Us to You
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We hope you are hanging in there as you navigate the many changes and challenges COVID-19 has brought to your lives. We at the Virginia Health Care Foundation are grateful every day to be working with you, who are so dedicated to helping uninsured and medically underserved Virginians obtain needed health care.
The many changes you have made, which enable you to continue serving your patients via technology or at required distance, are creative and thoughtful. The rapidity with which you have established these new approaches is a testament to your nimbleness and commitment to your patients. You inspire us!
As a result, we've devoted this quarter's newsletter to making sure you're informed about the many
positive changes occurring because of COVID-19. Some of these maximize health coverage and expedite food assistance to those affected by COVID job loss. Others provide new resources for medical, behavioral health, and dental providers.
We dedicate this newsletter to you and thank you for all you are doing to help your patients during these unprecedented times.
Debbie Oswalt & the VHCF Team
VHCF Launches COVID-19 Resource Page
COVID-19 Resource Page
contains a wide array of resources for those seeking information or help during this time of COVID. It contains topics such as personal health, medication assistance, Medicaid/FAMIS coverage, unemployment, child care, food, and much more!
Please let us know if it is missing something that would be helpful to you.
Medicaid/FAMIS Eligibility for Those Newly Unemployed
Virginia Medicaid coverage provides comprehensive health and mental health services, including testing and treatment for COVID-19.
Many Virginians who have lost their jobs or been furloughed as a result of COVID-19 are now eligible for Virginia's Medicaid or FAMIS programs. Even those who have been denied in the past may now qualify.
Current monthly income and family size are the only criteria used to evaluate financial eligibility for this Medicaid insurance coverage.
For example, the following would be income eligible:
- Single adult Virginians with a monthly income up to $1,469 (annual income up to $17,609)
- Adults in a household of three with a monthly income of $2,499 (annual income up to $29,974) may be eligible.
- Children in families earning up to $2,680 for a family of three (annual income up to $38,776).
Home, land, and retirement savings
do not count as income. COVID-19 stimulus checks and additional federal unemployment
do not count as income for Medicaid/FAMIS eligibility.
VHCF-funded Outreach Workers provide remote, free, 1:1 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
website. If there is no Outreach Worker in your community, patients can apply
or via phone: 855.242.8282.
Many Changes to Virginia's Medicaid/FAMIS Programs to Ensure Coverage and Care During COVID-19
Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) has moved quickly to identify and remove potential policy and program barriers in order to maximize availability of coverage. Highlights follow:
- No Medicaid/FAMIS cases will be closed during this health emergency unless the client requests the case be closed, the client dies, or the client permanently moves out of state.
- The appeal process has been modified to increase flexibility (keep coverage while appeal is pending, phone hearings, can reschedule hearings).
- Out-of-network authorization requirements have been relaxed.
- 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.
- 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.
- If a Virginia Medicaid member is temporarily living in another state during this health emergency, the member stays enrolled in Virginia Medicaid during this time.
- Outreach will occur to higher risk populations and older members to review critical needs.
DMAS is posting information on COVID-19 on both
and on the
website. The information on Cover Virginia's page is more focused on Medicaid/FAMIS benefits and client-focused information. Go to
and look for the red COVID-19 button at the top of the page.
Health Insurance from the Federal Marketplace
Many Virginians may now be eligible to obtain health insurance from the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace
due to COVID-related job loss or a reduction in hours. I
ndividuals in households with income up to up to 400% FPL may also qualify for financial assistance from the Marketplace. While the 2019 Open Enrollment period for the Marketplace has ended, these Virginians may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, which would allow them to apply for coverage now. For more information about who may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period, including for Loss of Health Insurance, go to the
page on this website or visit
Food Assistance via SNAP
Many more Virginians are applying for SNAP food assistance as a result of COVID-19. Click
for SNAP income eligibility limits. Several policy and procedure changes have been made to facilitate access to food during this time:
- Certification periods for SNAP expiring in March, April, and May 2020 will be extended for 6 months until September, October, and November 2020.
- Virginia SNAP recipients will receive emergency SNAP benefits during this time. This will increase allotments for all households to the maximum allowable for that household size. Emergency benefits for March were made available on March 25. April emergency benefits will be issued on April 16, the day regular SNAP benefits are issued.
- Effective April 1, 2020, the SNAP work requirement was waived for the duration of this health emergency.
For individuals experiencing difficulty with SNAP, assistance is available from the Virginia SNAP Hotline: 800.552.3431
For more than 10 years, RxOutreach, a nonprofit pharmacy, has provided medicines at 70% - 90% below retail pharmacy cost to low-income individuals and families. The medicines are mailed directly to their homes.
RxOutreach is temporarily extending its deep discounts to individuals and families facing financial hardship because of COVID
To see the guidelines and to enroll, visit their
and click on COVID-19.
VHCF's ToothTalk Listserv
provides a community forum to share resources, information, assistance, and to ask questions.
ToothTalk is for those staff and volunteers, who provide dental services in Virginia's dental safety net. It has been full of helpful dialogue and tips as the dental providers throughout Virginia and the country work to determine protocols and best practices for offering services when COVID makes them so vulnerable. There are also great tips about using tele-dentistry effectively.
To sign up for the ToothTalk Listserv, email Michelle Barnett at
with "ToothTalk" in the subject line and your name and organization in the body of the email.
Newly-Launched Resources for Oral and Behavioral Health During COVID-19
- To help providers navigate COVID-19, Virginia Health Catalyst has created a Teledentistry Implementation Guide. This comprehensive guide is specifically tailored to providing care during COVID-19 and includes an overview of teledentistry, resources for implementation like workflows and platform guidance, and updates on laws and regulations (including billing codes). For example, the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) will temporarily reimburse for dental evaluations and case management appointments that occur virtually.
VHCF has created a Behavioral Health Hub listserv as a venue for the behavioral health community to share new resources, tips, and thoughts related to the delivery of behavioral health services and self-care during COVID-19. Once resources are provided via the Hub, they will be housed (and categorized for easy reference) on a special BH Resource page. To join the Behavioral Health Hub listserv, email Andrea Lancaster or Cat Hulburt.