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Voting Against Virginia: Republican malpractice on Medicaid

What would you do if I offered you $2.1 billion dollars if you would give healthcare to 460,000 more people? Obviously you would take it. You would be an idiot not to.

Think of what Virginia could do with another $2.1 billion dollars: no more cutting into bone in our state budgets; no more underfunded universities and public schools; no more underpaid police officers, just to name a few things.

What if I told you that expanding your health coverage and accepting the money would also create 30,000 more high-paying jobs across the state, which would compound the growth in state revenue? No brainer, right? Talk about the art of the deal.

Yet bizarrely, Republicans refuse to accept this deal, to the overwhelming detriment of their own constituents!

Medicaid plays a critical role in the lives of over a million Virginians, providing access to health care for the most vulnerable. It covers one-in-three births in Virginia and half of Medicaid enrollees are children. Two-in-three nursing facility residents are supported by Medicaid and there are home and community-based waivers that support over 46,700 Virginians in a community setting of their choosing.

Medicaid is also the primary payer for behavioral health services in Virginia, which is critical to ensuring people get the mental health and addiction treatment they need (DMAS, “Medicaid at a glance,” 2017).

As you can imagine, this can get pretty expensive. Yet Republicans are leaving Federal money on the table because the expanded Medicaid program came from Democrats.

Republican intransigency means Virginia is foregoing $2.1 billion every budget cycle, or $6.8 million per day.

Virginians are already paying the federal taxes for Medicaid expansion, but because we haven’t expanded it in the state, our money goes to the states that did expand it., like California, Maryland and New York.

Instead, Virginia’s eligibility criteria are among the strictest in the nation, with the Commonwealth being 47th in the nation on per capita Medicaid spending. Our state cannot legally cover any fewer families than it does now because of requirements in the federal Social Security Act.

Under the Affordable Care Act, states can expand Medicaid to cover people making up to 138% of the federal poverty level, or about $16,640 for an individual. The federal government picks up almost all of the cost, gradually phasing down to the 90% traditional cost-share level.

To date, 31 states have expanded Medicaid and about half of those have Republican governors. Giving your residents access to affordable health care should not be a partisan issue, but Virginia Republicans have made it one.

It shouldn’t be a partisan issue because many of the districts that would benefit the most are Republican districts.

A 2014 analysis found that $1.19 billion of the new money would go to new spending in Republican Delegate seats. Of the 30,000 new jobs, 17,880 jobs would go to Republican delegate seats and funnel millions in new education spending to Republican delegate seats.

While the numbers are a couple years old, the data are still valid as the turnover in the House of Delegates has been minimal, with Democrats only picking up a few of these GOP seats (and losing others). As you can see for yourself, the Republican position is untenable and is healthcare malpractice.

Click here for a downloadable PDF of the data.

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