State and local agencies prepare for Medicaid expansion

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Medicaid expansion could mean almost 7,000 additional recipients in Roanoke.

The city has been preparing for months, adding staff and training employees, so they're ready on January first.

Steve Martin is the Director of Human and Social Services.

"Of course any time there's change there's a nervousness on staff," Martin said, but he believes employees are up to the challenge.

And Martin says one benefit of Medicaid expansion will be to increase access to preventive care.

"Right now, there's such a demand on emergency rooms for people that don't do the preventative type things," Martin said, "and this should enable people to do that."

"Of course it does have some cost on the front end. I think that overall the hope is it will reduce on the back end and people will be healthier."

Martin says he believes the word is getting out.

And faith leaders in western Virginia and across the state say they will work to make sure those who are eligible are able to enroll.

Captain Monica Seiler is with The Salvation Army.

"And so some individuals have had information mailed to their house directly, but perhaps it's not a current address as folks in crisis are generally in transition often. or perhaps they haven't read it or haven't remembered," Seiler told WDBJ7. "So this is a way for the faith community to get involved very practically with those in the community that need to know the information."

Some of the churches in the Roanoke Valley are planning educational forums. And there are resources online that can help people determine if they meet eligibility requirements.

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