The Alexandria City Council last night unanimously adopted a resolution “Regarding Affordable and Attainable Health Care in the City of Alexandria: A resolution to protect and expand access to quality, affordable health care services for all Alexandrians.”

The Resolution contains the following elements:

  • The City supports initiatives to improve the Affordable Care Act and to expand Medicaid in VA.
  • The City opposes repeal of ACA, cuts to Medicaid or Medicare and cuts to the Prevention & Public Health Fund.
  • The City requests that the Public Health Advisory Commission keep the City Council informed of changes in State and Federal programs.

This resolution is important in that it assures Alexandria residents that the Mayor and City Council consider access to healthcare a high priority, at a time when many in Congress and the current administration oppose the ACA and have threatened reductions in Medicare and Medicaid spending. The resolution has implications outside of Alexandria. Although Alexandria’s members of Congress and members of the General Assembly support the ACA (with improvements) and Medicaid expansion in Virginia, elected officials from other parts of the Commonwealth have voted otherwise. The Healthcare for all Virginians Coalition (havcoalition.org) will distribute the Alexandria resolution, once adopted, around the Commonwealth to encourage other jurisdictions to adopt similar resolutions.

The resolution was initiated by Grassroots Alexandria, a local non-partisan citizen activist group. According to Sarah Stott, coordinator of the healthcare team, “Access to healthcare should be a right of all people. It’s critical that our local, state and federal representatives do their part to make that a reality.”

Between March and August, 2017 the Grassroots Alexandria healthcare team discussed the resolution with many Alexandria residents and local health organizations including the City’s Public Health Advisory Commission. The Commission discussed the resolution at four monthly meetings and voted unanimously at their August 17th meeting to submit the resolution to the City Council for adoption.

Grassroots Alexandria was founded December, 2016. The organization promotes local, non-partisan, long-term conversations, community education and action towards positive solutions. The Grassroots Alexandria teams are: Environmental Stewardship, Healthcare, Vulnerable Communities, Anti-fascist, LGBTQ, and Communications.

The full text of the Resolution is below:

WHEREAS, the City of Alexandria’s Strategic Plan for 2017-2022 states that the City will “work to reduce inequities in the health system, increase access to care for all residents, and provide a system of support for residents with behavioral health needs;” and both the Alexandria Public Health Advisory Commission, in its 2015 and 2016 annual reports, and the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria, in its Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) for the City, also cite increased access to health care services as a key factor in ensuring healthy residents; and

WHEREAS, 18.6% of Alexandrians, including approximately 31% of Alexandria’s children, rely in whole or in part on state or federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare for health coverage assistance; and approximately 6% of Alexandrians under age 65 are Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange enrollees who benefit from ACA provisions such as required essential benefits, cost sharing, non-discrimination for pre-existing conditions, tax credits and subsidies; and

WHEREAS, Medicaid revenue support services for our students within the Alexandria City Public Schools, providing $2.5 million in 2016 and nearly $2 million in 2017, as well as services to residents through the Department of Community and Human Services, providing $2.4 million in 2016 and $3.2 million in 2017; and

WHEREAS, approximately 13% of Alexandrians lack health insurance and, according to studies by the Institute of Medicine and Families USA, the uninsured are more likely to die prematurely than those with health care coverage. The uninsured are also less likely to have a reliable source of health care outside of the emergency room, often go without screenings and preventive care, frequently delay or go without needed health care services, and pay more for medical care; and 

WHEREAS, the ACA’s Prevention and Public Health Fund, which constitutes 12% of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) budget and provides over 15 million dollars annually to the state of Virginia, provides traditional and long-standing core public-health services and employment for programs such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke prevention, childhood and adult immunizations, infectious and food-borne disease investigation, as well as many others focused on community health improvement and benefiting Alexandria residents; and

WHEREAS, changes in health care policy at the federal, state, regional, or local level have the potential to substantially affect the number of uninsured or underserved in Alexandria, the strength of the health care safety net, and the ability of large numbers of Alexandrians to attain affordable, quality care; and

WHEREAS, Governor McAuliffe recently announced that he intends to include, in the biennial budget he prepares for the 2018 General Assembly Session, Medicaid expansion; and

WHEREAS, Medicaid expansion would benefit 400,00 low-income Virginians, including many Alexandrians; and

WHEREAS, the General Assembly’s refusal to expand Medicaid under the ACA has resulted in the forfeiture of $10.4 billion in federal funds that would have been used to provide health care to low-income Virginians; and

WHEREAS, Governor McAuliffe has noted that none of the bills proposed in Congress to repeal and replace the ACA would have left Virginia better off, and one would even have required Virginia and the other non-expansion states to pay for the expansion states’ costs for five years;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE CITY COUNCIL:

Vigorously SUPPORTS all efforts that will protect and expand attainability of quality, affordable health care services for every Alexandrian.

Specifically REQUESTS and VOICES SUPPORT for continued efforts to expand Medicaid in Virginia.

Vigorously OPPOSES all efforts that will leave Alexandrians less able to afford or attain quality health care services. 

Specifically VOICES OPPOSITION TO  a) repeal of the ACA in whole or in part, or replacement of any of the ACA’s provisions with any alternative, when such repeal or replacement would leave Alexandrians less able to afford and obtain quality health care services, or would leave Alexandria’s health safety-net providers and public health system less able to provide quality health care services; b) cuts or changes in Medicaid or Medicare funding that would expose more Alexandrians to gaps in health coverage; and c) elimination or cuts to the CDC’s Prevention and Public Health Fund.

REQUESTS that the Public Health Advisory Commission keep City Council informed of proposed federal and state changes that would impact health care services.

CALLS UPON the Governor of Virginia and the Virginia General Assembly to persistently protect and expand access to quality, affordable health care in Virginia, and upon the President of the United States, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and our members of Congress to persistently protect and expand the attainability, affordability, and quality of health care in Virginia and in the nation.

THANKS the members of the City’s General Assembly delegation for their support of Medicaid expansion in Virginia, and asks them to continue this support.

DIRECTS that a copy of this resolution be sent to the President of the United States, Secretary of Health and Human Services, U.S. Speaker of the House, U.S. Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senate Minority Leader, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, U.S. House Minority Leader, U.S. Representative Don Beyer and all other Representatives to the U.S. Congress from Virginia, Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Members of the City’s delegation to, as well as the leadership of, the Virginia General Assembly.

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