In a major budget announcement Wednesday, Governor Tim Kaine is proposing a state-subsidized program to expand health care to thousands of uninsured Virginians, including those living above the poverty line.
This plan could put $25 million toward helping the uninsured. Kaine says one in seven Virginians still don't have health insurance, either because their employers don't provide it or because they can't afford it.
In the two-year budget the governor will propose on Monday, he will include $10 million to clinics that care for the needy and uninsured, $7.7 million to help pay the insurance premiums for the working uninsured, and about $7.5 million for prenatal care for pregnant women.
Kaine is also proposing some help for small businesses that can't afford to give insurance to workers. The Virginia Share Health Insurance Program would cover 1/3 of the premium costs and the employer and the employee would each cover the remaining costs.
"It may allow them to hire additional employees because it's going to lower their overall health care costs. It may allow them to expand staff and better compete again, so this brings down their cost of doing business," said Henry Reeves, the director of Small Business Development Center.
Kaine says, initially, more than 5,000 Virginians are expected to gain health insurance through the Virginia Share Health program.