Letter: Medicaid expansion should proceed without delay
Posted on Feb 12, 2014 - 02:56 PM Printer Friendly View
Several reasons for not expanding Medicaid in Virginia were published in a letter to the editor on Feb. 6. It is important that readers understand the compelling reasons for Virginia to expand Medicaid—without delay.
Virginians are already paying the taxes that allow the federal government to pay for Medicaid expansion. It is estimated that those taxes will amount to $26 billion (with a B!) over the next 10 years. Some of these taxes are in the form of corporate taxes (taxes on the sale of medical devices, insurance plans and drug companies) that will be passed on to the consumer, and others are being directly paid by you (taxes on investment income and Medicare part A and B out of pocket increases). As Virginia’s Secretary of Health and Human Resources, William A. Hazel Jr., M.D. (who was originally appointed by a Republican governor) likes to say, that $26 billion is already loaded onto a barge and is being floated across the “Potomac Ocean” so that Washington can distribute it to the Medicaid-expansion states.
Based on the Supreme Court decision and the multiple failed attempts at repeal of the Affordable Care Act, the law which instituted these taxes is not going away anytime soon. The only way the Commonwealth of Virginia can recover the money that taxpayers are already contributing to the U.S. Treasury is to expand Medicaid. Medicaid is not without its flaws, but it and free clinics like the Gloucester-Mathews Free Clinic are the only ways that our neediest citizens can obtain primary care in Virginia other than the emergency room. Providing health care is not only a good thing to do for those in need and for the commonwealth, but it also creates jobs. It is estimated that Virginia would receive more than $29 billion (also with a B!) from the federal government over the next 10 years by expanding Medicaid. A large portion of that money would be used to create jobs in health care and related technology and infrastructure.
If the federal government decided to buy a new weapon system that would pay Newport News Shipbuilding $29 billion, the General Assembly would not run away from that money, no matter how flawed the weapon system was. Virginia would not suggest that the work and jobs be sent to Rhode Island. Why would Virginia chose not to recover the tax dollars which we are already paying, bring new jobs to Virginia and at the same time help those who have the greatest need?
Remember that each day Virginia decides not to expand Medicaid, another $5 million of your tax money is put on one of those “Potomac Ocean” barges. Please urge your state representatives to expand Medicaid without delay.
Hugh M. Bryan III