Remember squandering $126 million in federal unemployment money from recovery funding? Yesterday McDonnell proposed stripping $1 billion from the 2012-14 budget adopted by the General Assembly; federal dollars earmarked to provide health insurance for 400,000 low-income Virginians during implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion.
“The Governor’s removal of $1 billion for health care hurts not only uninsured Virginians, but also Virginia’s hospitals and the overall economy.” – Jill Hanken, Virginia Poverty Law Center
“The infusion of $1 billion into Virginia’s economy was expected to support 30,000 jobs throughout the state,” Hanken said. “Does the Governor truly support job creation? If so, he should support the Medicaid expansion, which would bring billions of federal dollars into Virginia’s economy over many years.”
The Affordable Care Act raises the national income eligibility level for Medicaid to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Many of the people covered under the expansion are working poor, with annual incomes of about $15,000 for a single person and $32,000 for a family of four. In June, the Supreme Court decided states could not be forced to expand Medicaid, making the increase in eligibility a state option. Hanken said most states will probably expand their programs, because the ACA calls for the federal government to fund 100 percent of the cost for the first three years and then phase down to no less than 90 percent of the cost in 2020.
But McDonnell’s rejection of a program that would infuse $6 billion into the economy through 2017 means Virginians’ federal tax dollars will not return to the commonwealth. “Virginia’s Medicaid eligibility levels for adults are nearly the worst in the country,” Hanken said. “Why should our federal tax dollars go to other states when there is so much need here?”
Hanken believes the General Assembly will recognize that the Governor’s rejection of billions of dollars for Virginia’s citizens and the health care industry is unwise and shortsighted.