RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam announced on Friday that Virginia has been approved to proceed with a state-based health insurance exchange.

The approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will allow Virginia to take over some functions of its current federal exchange beginning with open enrollment this November.

Northam said in a press release that the move puts the state on a path to full control by 2023.

Data show that more than 452,000 Virginians enrolled in new health care coverage since 2018. The expansion of Medicaid has proven a critical lifeline for Virginians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 125,603 Virginians, including 41,272 children, enrolled in Medicaid since the state of emergency was declared in Virginia on March 12.

With this, the Commonwealth can implement policies to better address costs with the establishment of the Virginia Exchange. Northam says the state will be able to work directly with insurance companies to meet the health coverage needs of all Virginians purchasing coverage to include small employers.

With the implementation, Virginia will also be able to provide more targeted outreach and enrollment services and extend the time Virginians have to enroll in coverage if needed.

Together, the strategies will expand access to health care and help increase overall affordability for all.

“This approval could not come at a more critical time as we continue to battle COVID-19,” said Northam. “The Trump administration is doing everything possible to gut the Affordable Care Act and kick families off their health insurance, and a state-based exchange will give Virginia the autonomy we need to expand access to care and reduce premiums. As governor and as a physician, I will never stop fighting for affordable, high-quality health care.”

To view the full letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, click here.

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