CHESAPEAKE -- The affordable care act is supposed to move millions of the uninsured under the Medicaid umbrella.
States including Virginia are being asked to expand the programs to cover some of the most low-income residents. Many of these patients rely on free clinics.
Samuel Ruffin’s wife get medical care from the Chesapeake Care Free Clinic. He’s elated that she may now qualify for Medicaid as a result of Thursday’s ruling.
“I mean it's like a prayer being answered. You can go the distance. It gives equal, they say equal opportunity or whatever. That makes it more equal for those who really can't afford it,” says Ruffin.
Ron Bevins has been struggling with health problems for the last two years, including tongue cancer. He is also looking forward to obtaining Medicaid.
“I don't know what I would have done without my brother who helps me financially and the clinic. It's been really tough,” explains Bevins while fighting back tears.
But coverage under the Medicaid program is not guaranteed. Chesapeake Care Free Clinic executive director, Cathy Revell, says many doctors are already refusing Medicaid patients because reimbursements are too low. She says the law doesn’t eliminate the need for free clinics.
"Even with the Affordable Care Act in place, there's still going to be an estimated 23 to 26 million Americans who won't have access because they'll opt out. There in the underground ecomony, “ says Revell.
Still 60 percent of the patients served by the clinic will now qualify for Medicaid. Last year, 1700 patients received care there.