Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, said Thursday she was personally "pleasantly surprised" by the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act.
"Now that there is some clarity as to what in the act actually is now going to be law, and is going to be implemented, we may move forward now," she said. "Fairfax County stands ready to make that happen."
"We are poised to move forward with what we know now is going to be implemented in Fairfax County," she said.
Bulova: Turned down for healthcare coverage
Bulova said personal experience has made her a big believer in affordable healthcare for all.
"When I was a young mother in my late 20s, I worked for a small private company and was covered by a healthcare plan offered there," she said. "Six months later, my company decided to change providers. My boss called me into his office and said the new provider refused to cover me," because of a benign lump found earlier in a routine screening.
"I had this blemish on my medical record, and they would not cover me," she said. "The rest of the office was covered and my boss said 'I hope you can find other coverage, Sharon.' It's always made me a believer in universal medical coverage."
Harrison: State of healthcare reform in Fairfax County
How will Thursday's ruling affect the county? The following information about the state of healthcare coverage in the county was provided by Patricia Harrison, deputy county executive, who established a Health Care Reform Implementation Task Force in 2010:
- An estimated 144,000 county residents currently have no health insurance; private insurance health exchange market will help low income Fairfax residents to obtain insurance.
- There are nearly 40,000 working low-income individuals residing in Fairfax County, many working in small businesses, who will benefit from participation in the health exchanges created through the Act.
Small businesses receive tax credits and incentives to participate in offering health insurance plans to employees. Low-income employees receive financial subsidies to enroll. The county is working with health service partners in the Northern Virginia region to leverage existing primary care, behavioral, dental and pharmacy services to provide access for people participating in the state health exchange that will be implemented as a result of the Act.
Prevention and Wellness Funds will support healthy community goals
The Affordable Care Act funds prevention initiatives to support wellness strategies in communities. Fairfax County received nearly $2.5 million in funding to support efforts to build a healthier community—implementing policies and physical environments that prevent chronic disease by enabling healthy eating, active living and access to quality clinical preventive services. Other grant and discretionary prevention funds will be available through the Act to further prevention goals for the community.
Outreach to persons needing help to obtain health care
The county will continue to work in partnership with local hospitals, free clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, the Fairfax Medical and Dental societies, pharmacies and pharmacists, nonprofits, social services agencies, the state and other local governments to strengthen our local “health safety net” to help low income individuals, seniors and persons with disabilities who may have difficulty in finding affordable, comprehensive and quality health care.
If the Commonwealth of Virginia participates in the Medicaid expansion, more Northern Virginians—single working low income adults without insurance—will be able to access health care.
Depending on the extent of Virginia’s expansion of Medicaid, many more individuals currently not eligible under existing state Medicaid rules will now be eligible to apply for and participate in Medicaid funded services. This may assist an estimated 30,000 single adults of working age, funded through federal dollars. This possibly will reduce the local tax burden and charity care services offered today to these individuals who currently can’t afford to buy insurance.
In the early years, federal funds are committed to fund the expansion. The county emphasizes that further evaluation of the local impact of Virginia’s Medicaid expansion will be needed once expansion and eligibility rules are determined.
Health Care Reform Implementation Task Force
In December 2010, Harrison established the Health Care Reform Implementation Task Force. The Task Force has been evaluating this issue for many months and the county is in a good position to assess what the high court’s ruling means to our community.
"We will continue to evaluate the implications of today’s ruling and take appropriate actions," Harrison said.