Community Health Center of the New River Valley helps adults access new health coverage

January 1, 2019
Liz Kirchner

In Virginia, nearly four hundred thousand low-income people were stuck in the health care coverage gap: unable to get quality, affordable coverage through the federal insurance marketplace because they don’t make enough money, but unable qualify for Medicaid because they make too much.

In June of this year, Virginia voted in a bipartisan decision to shrink that Medicaid loophole.

Of the 370,000 people who may be eligible to receive assistance, nearly 4000 are Montgomery County residents according to research presented earlier this year by the Commonwealth Group for Fiscal Analysis.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, new health coverage has become available to people between 19- and 64-years-old and have incomes below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, that’s $16,643 for an individual and $28,180 for a family of three.

Because self-employed people or those working in retail, construction, childcare, landscaping, food service frequently do not have access to affordable health insurance, they may now be able to get low-cost health insurance that includes regular preventive care and treatment for chronic health conditions.

The Community Health Center of the NRV, housed in Montgomery, Giles and Pulaski counties, is helping people determine whether they’re eligible for health care, and how to choose among plans.

“Our staff works one-on-one to help people choose which approved Medicaid Managed Care Organization would best fit their health care needs based on the additional benefits, like dental or vision coverage,” Elizabeth Hager, patient services and volunteer coordinator at the center said.

In the run-up to the Jan. 1 opening of coverage, the CHC has assisted 160 people with questions and signing up.

“In November, I helped a patient, who is currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, sign up for New Health Coverage for Adults,” Hager said. “When she found out that she was eligible for Medicaid, she cried.”

The self-employed client hadn’t been able to work.

“By becoming eligible for New Health Coverage for Adults, she can focus her energy on healing not worrying about whether she can pay her electric bill,” Hager said.

For more information, call 540 381-0820, or visit