Stafford County and the Stafford Hospital have a long history of working together to improve the community. The hospital turns ten this month, marking ten years of a productive partnership with Stafford. One of the annual ways the hospital helps Stafford County is by providing grant opportunities through the Community Benefit Fund. Stafford was funded $20,000 this year to help underwrite the salary of a worker to administer Stafford’s Health Insurance Enrollment Program or SHINE. This grant award is the eighth year in a row Stafford has competed and been awarded funds.
“This money will come in very handy this year especially since Virginia’s expansion of the Medicaid program went into effect on January 1. More than 400,000 Virginians were predicted to become eligible for Medicaid, and we have seen an uptick in applications,” said Heather Trascapoulos, Stafford Social Services Benefits Program Specialist and SHINE Program Administrator. “Giving people access to insurance allows them to have better care regularly, hopefully cutting down on the use of Stafford Hospital’s emergency rooms for routine illnesses.”
The expansion was passed in the General Assembly with a work requirement that has not been implemented yet. Trascapoulos spoke with one woman who whose job was ending and needed heart medications. Upon hearing she qualified for the insurance until she could secure another position, she burst into tears of thankfulness. These are the types of stories Social Services workers hear every day.
The purpose of the SHINE program is to enhance the department’s ability to provide eligible Stafford families and children with access to state-sponsored health insurance programs such as Medicaid and Family Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS). The funding enables Stafford DSS to hire a part-time 20-hour-a-week benefit programs specialist worker.
This worker devotes extensive one-on-one assistance and follow-up with prospective applicants in compliance with the Virginia Department of Social Service’s state and federal regulations. The SHINE worker also works closely with Stafford Public School personnel and the Stafford Health Department to accept referrals on behalf of potential applicants. The SHINE grant objectives include evaluating at least 750 families for Medicaid eligibility and enrolling at least 350 qualified individuals. Last year, Stafford Social Services assisted 789 qualified individuals in enrolling.
For more information about the SHINE program or other medical assistance programs, please visit the Social Services page of www.staffordcountyva.gov or call (540) 658-8720.