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182,000 Virginians will gain Medicaid when expansion takes effect in 2019

Medicaid expansion in Virginia is set to take effect Jan. 1, 2019, and more than 182,000 people have gained coverage under the new policy, according to Gov. Ralph Northam.

The final total of those gaining coverage may still increase, the state said in a Dec. 19 statement. Even though the enrollment period for the open market has ended, people can sign up for Medicaid throughout the year, according to Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services Director Jennifer Lee. Along with year-round enrollment, individuals receiving benefits under Virginia's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program are eligible to apply for coverage through Jan. 4, 2019.

After nearly five years of political infighting about expansion, Northam managed to shepherd Medicaid expansion legislation through the state's assembly in May. The policy increased Medicaid coverage to individuals that make up to 138% of the federal poverty level. Under the new policy, individual adults that make up to $16,754 and an adult in a family of three that makes up to $28,677 are eligible to receive benefits, according to the statement.

The approximately 182,000 new Medicaid recipients are less than half of the projected total. In a report, the Virginia Department of Health estimated that expansion could increase coverage to nearly 400,000 people.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.