Letter: Medicaid expansion is a no-brainer
As you know, our General Assembly adjourned without reaching agreement on the budget because a provision to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare was included. During their session, the Senate did pass a bill which would indirectly provide for health insurance using private companies but with funding provided by the ACA. The House opposed the Senate bill and since no agreement was reached, the governor has called for a special session of the General Assembly on March 24 to pass a budget that will hopefully include Medicaid expansion.
I think failure to pass the Medicaid expansion bill is a travesty. Other than politics, there is absolutely no rational reason not to pass it. It will cost the state nothing. In fact, according to a fiscal analysis done by the Commonwealth Institute in 2013, Virginia would receive $2.08 billion from ACA and would have outlays of $1.02 billion for a net gain of $1.06 billion. Those opposed to the expansion said they did not believe the federal government could provide the funding for expansion. I know of no social program the government has implemented since Social Security in 1935 that wasn’t funded. Those opposed to expansion keep coming up with argument after argument to keep from implementing Medicaid expansion. There can be no reason but politics.
Our Delegate Mr. Keith Hodges and our Senator Mr. Tommy Norment both toed the party line in opposing Medicaid expansion. They used the same talking points as their party leadership, none of which provided logical reasons for not passing the bill. This state has over 300,000 people without health insurance. The ACA will provide insurance to a vast majority of them at no added cost to Virginia taxpayers. Except for politics, how can anyone not approve this bill?
Twenty-three other states have passed it and three more will this year. What does our legislature know that those states don’t? Mr. Hodges recently held a town hall meeting to apprise those in attendance of actions the legislature has taken during this session. I wonder how many in that audience were made up of low-income people with no health care.
I ask Mr. Hodges and Mr. Norment to reconsider their positions before the special session of the General Assembly and vote for the Senate version of the Medicaid expansion bill. As they talk with their constituents, I hope they include those most affected: i.e., those without health care insurance. Their vote will influence mine during the next election, and I hope yours too.
James Store, Va.