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VCU Health expands participation with federal health insurance plans


Central Virginia residents will have more health insurance options to receive in-network care at VCU Health in 2019. Compared to the 2018 offerings, the number of Medicare Advantage and Health Insurance Marketplace plans with in-network access to VCU Health hospitals and clinics will double. In addition, many uninsured and underinsured patients of the region’s largest safety-net provider are expected to qualify for Medicaid under the expansion in Virginia.

“We have a mission to restore health for all people, and are responsible for providing affordable access to care for our community,” said Marsha Rappley, M.D., CEO of VCU Health System and vice president for health sciences at VCU. “Many patients come to us for specialized care they can find nowhere else in Virginia. Our commitment to serve all people in Virginia starts well before they set foot in our facilities. It begins with helping them get the health insurance coverage that is right for them.”

The comprehensive academic health center is home to the region’s only Level I adult and pediatric trauma center and National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. It also ranks among the top 50 in the country by U.S. News & World Report for urology, nephrology, orthopedics, diabetes and endocrinology.

The expansion of options begins today with the start of the 2019 open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage. Patients in Central Virginia age 65 or older who choose VCU Health for their care will have at least four Medicare Advantage plans to choose from in 2019, compared to two in 2018. “A growing number of our patients are older with complex health care needs,” said Penny Trentham, vice president of managed care at VCU Health. “Seniors are looking for affordable options to manage their Medicare benefits, so we are working hard to remove any network barriers that prevent a patient from accessing VCU Health for the care they need.”

Patients interested in getting health insurance coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace also will have access to care at VCU Health in 2019. To date, two insurers will offer marketplace options covering the city of Richmond and most surrounding counties: Cigna Connect and Virginia Premier. VCU Health providers, hospitals and facilities have in-network agreements with both companies. Virginia Premier is a wholly owned subsidiary of VCU Health System.

To ensure all individuals who qualify for Medicaid in 2019 can continue seeing their care providers, VCU Health will participate with all six Medicaid plans under the expansion.

“We take care of more financially vulnerable patients than any other health system in Virginia, so we know that improving access to coverage through Medicaid expansion is important to many we serve,” said Sheryl Garland, chief of health impact at VCU Health System. “We are committed to helping every patient who may qualify to sign up for government-assisted programs and receive affordable, high-quality health care.”

This commitment extends to approximately 20,000 patients in the commonwealth’s Indigent Care Program treated at VCU Health. More than 10,000 of them are part of the Virginia Coordinated Care Program (VCC), a care coordination initiative created and operated by VCU Health. It connects uninsured patients with primary care services in the greater Richmond metro area, offering an alternative to using the emergency room for primary care needs. “VCC is not insurance, and we are excited to see many of our patients transition to a comprehensive health insurance plan, some for the first time in their lives,” Garland said. Since 2000, VCC has facilitated primary care coordination for more than 89,000 uninsured individuals. Garland expects up to 95 percent of current Indigent Care Program and VCC enrollees to qualify for Medicaid under the expansion.

During the 2019 open enrollment, VCU Health will post real-time updates on available health insurance plans with in-network access to their providers on its website, www.vcuhealth.org/enroll. Patients looking for help in choosing a plan can contact the Virginia Insurance Counseling and Assistance Program at (800) 552-3402. More information about Medicaid expansion is available at coverva.org.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Thirty-eight of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center and Level I trauma center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit www.vcu.edu and vcuhealth.org.