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Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst

Anna is a Senior Health Policy Analyst for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women's Law Center where she works to implement health care reform at the state level — with a particular focus on ensuring equitable, affordable access to care. Prior to joining the Center, Anna served as a Policy Analyst at Harbor Health Services, a large network of community health centers headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts and home to the first health center in the country. For several years Anna worked to advance evidence-based practices that reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C in New York City and successfully lobbied for increased resources and policy reform. She is a graduate of New York University and later received an interdisciplinary Master's Degree from NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

My Take

Governor of Maine Denies Healthcare for 70,000 Mainers

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: April 16, 2014 at 03:23 pm

Last week, Governor LePage blocked health coverage to hardworking Maine residents by vetoing a bill that would have provided Medicaid to 70,000 people.

Maine is one of 24 states that have not taken federal funding to cover more people in Medicaid. Under the health care law, women and their families in every state are eligible for tax credits to help them afford health insurance, depending on their family income. In states that accept federal money to expand coverage through Medicaid, people with lower incomes will also have affordable coverage. But in states that turn down the money, people with lower incomes (and those who do not meet other strict eligibility criteria) will not get any financial help for health insurance costs. That’s the “coverage gap” too many women and families are facing right now.

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Virginia Lawmakers Must Act Now and Cover More People in Medicaid

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: March 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

Each week, my colleague Stephanie Glover and I take a short trip to Arlington to volunteer as Certified Application Counselors (CACs). We talk to Virginians about the health coverage options available under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and help them enroll in an affordable comprehensive insurance plan. It is very exciting to meet new clients each week—all of whom are uninsured—who are eager to learn about their options and obtain coverage.

The best part of the experience is enrolling a previously uninsured family into health insurance that meets their needs and fits their budget. Clients leave the office happy and incredibly thankful to the volunteers. The worst part of this experience is telling clients that, unfortunately, they are not eligible to enroll today. I try to explain they are not eligible to enroll in a private plan because their income is below the poverty level which means they do not qualify for federal subsidies and yet they earn too much income (or fail to meet other eligibility criteria) to qualify for Virginia’s current Medicaid program.

Because Virginia is one of 26 states that have not taken federal funding to cover more people in Medicaid, hundreds of thousands of residents fall into this “coverage gap.” Most clients are confused and do not understand why they cannot enroll—they have all of their tax paperwork and other documentation with them, and are ready to complete the process. They leave the office frustrated and disappointed. Some ask what they should do in the meantime. Others say they will check with the Medicaid office in the summer to see if anything has changed.

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A Snapshot of Enrollment: Our Experience in Virginia

Posted by | Posted on: March 25, 2014 at 01:46 pm

On most days, we’re in our office working on health policy – crunching numbers, reading reports, writing about new policy proposals – but one day a week for the past three months, we’ve been in the field working with northern Virginians who want to enroll in health insurance. As Certified Application Counselors, we work with individuals and families to apply online, evaluate their options for health coverage, and then enroll in the plan that fits their needs and budget.

HHS announced last week that 5 million Americans have signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with nearly 103,000 in Virginia [PDF]. We’ve only worked with a small fraction of the new enrollees, but we’ve seen how eager people are to learn about the financial help that is available and evaluate their options for insurance.

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Forward Progress on Accepting Federal Funds to Cover More People in Medicaid

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: November 06, 2013 at 04:22 pm

Last night’s election results are in and it’s a game changer for women and families in Virginia. Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe made the state’s choice of whether or not to cover more people in the Medicaid program a central component of his platform and, last night, the effort to provide coverage for hard-working low-income Virginians just got a burst of momentum with a champion headed to the Governor’s office.

The Medicaid eligibility expansion is a crucial part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—and is a main component of the ACA’s strategy for achieving near-universal health coverage. States may accept federal funding to expand coverage through Medicaid to all qualified individuals under age 65 who have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), or about $32,500 for a family of four. Approximately 15 million uninsured Americans, including 7 million women, will be newly eligible for health coverage through Medicaid.

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News Reports Miss the Real Story on the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Enrollment

Posted by Anna Benyo, Senior Health Policy Analyst | Posted on: October 31, 2013 at 04:06 pm

CBS and other news outlets have reported on the fact that many Americans are signing up for Medicaid coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Some of these reports suggest that this is somehow a crisis or a major problem with the law, but in fact, this is how Congress designed the ACA. The ACA extends health coverage to up to 30 million currently uninsured Americans through tax credits to purchase private insurance on the newly launched Health Insurance Marketplaces and through a major expansion of Medicaid eligibility. The Medicaid eligibility expansion is a crucial part of the health care law—and is a main component of the ACA’s strategy for achieving near-universal health coverage. States may accept federal funding to expand coverage through Medicaid to all qualified individuals under age 65 who have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL), or about $32,500 for a family of four. Approximately 15 million uninsured Americans, including 7 million women, will be newly eligible for health coverage through Medicaid.

Here are a few facts that put these reports into context:

  •  This is how the ACA is supposed to work. According to estimates by the Urban Institute and the Kaiser Family Foundation almost half (47%) of the uninsured population could be eligible for coverage through the ACA’s opportunity to expand Medicaid eligibility. This Medicaid eligibility expansion was always going to be a big part of the ACA’s coverage goals.
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