GOP holds the state for ransom over Medicaid

Ted Cruz has nothing on the Republican members of Virginia’s General Assembly. Like Cruz, they are holding Virginia’s budget hostage unless the governor removes expansion of Medicaid from it.

Without a budget, Virginia’s government will be closed statewide on July 1. No one will be able to get licenses or permits, receive unemployment benefits, go to school, call a police officer, go to a state health facility, etc., etc. The impact on Virginians will be more far-reaching than the federal government shut-down

During a recent Town Hall Meeting in Louisa, Senators Tom Garrett and Bryce Reeves, and Del. Peter Farrell, all voiced their disapproval of the expansion of Medicaid. They cited the cost as one of their main reasons, although the federal government will pick up 100 percent of the cost from 2014 through 2016 and gradually decrease to 90 percent in 2020.

We the taxpayers, hospitals, and state government are currently footing all of the bill for people who would be covered under Medicaid Expansion. They couldn’t cite one example of when that happened in the past. The money that has been set aside for Virginia will go to other states and we will continue to pay.

Hospitals, the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and corporate leaders have contacted legislators to persuade them to expand Medicaid. They know it makes good business sense. In FY12, Virginia spent $112 million on indigent care. The expansion of Medicaid would result in a savings of 50 to 80 percent of that amount.

Sen. Reeves says he supports a healthcare savings plan. An individual in the audience suggested that everyone should put aside money for medical care. If you can’t afford food and other immediate necessities of life, how can you afford to put aside money for healthcare?

Sen. Garrett said he was against the expansion of Medicaid because of the amount of fraud uncovered. He also said it wasn’t the recipients who were responsible for the fraud; it was the providers. Potential recipients of much needed Medicaid should not be denied healthcare because of scam artists. Seems to me like there should be more scrutiny of the providers instead of punishing those who need Medicaid.

According to a Harvard Medical School study, someone dies every 12 minutes as a consequence of not having health insurance. Garrett, Reeves and Farrell don’t seem to care about that.

In my opinion, the only reason they won’t approve expansion of Medicaid is they are merely following the Republican Party line to disapprove the Affordable Care Act at all costs. They aren’t taking into consideration the needs of the almost 460,000 Virginians who need Medicaid.

They also don’t seem to remember that Democrats won the major positions in Virginia during the last election. Obviously, the majority of Virginians support Obamacare. Otherwise we would have a Republican governor and Attorney General.

It’s time our representatives started supporting the people instead of the party. Call your General Assembly members and tell them Virginia needs to expand Medicaid. We can’t afford not to.

Deanna Nicosa

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