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Medicaid Expansion is a Family and Moral Value

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Last night in Staunton at a vigil coordinated by Virginia Organizing for Medicaid expansion in Virginia, Reverend David Rochford made the case for expansion on the basis of faith. There is a reconciliation required because those who oppose claim to be fighting for “family values.” Someone is a hypocrite.

Reverend Rochford emphasized that Virginia has been at the center of media attention for the last couple of days. This is nothing new. He pointed out that Virginia moved from the solid south into the bellwether state category some time ago. It serves as a leading indicator of trends in the country as a whole. He argued that Virginia is a pragmatic state and that explains why the electorate settles on politicians like John Warner and Mark Warner who can be out of step with their own parties so long as they represent the interest of their constituencies.

“I say we view this as a family issue and a personal issue.” – Reverend David Rochford

Making a stand for his own constituency, a constituency of faith, Rochford stated that he represents the interest of “just people.” Rochford believes that people are worth hearing from and that even people who are not part of a particular faith tradition “feel deeply and passionately about the same things that I do as a Christian.”

“Only God made you. But people make corporations, and corporations are heard from.” – Reverend David Rochford

 photo c2c78aa5-9bb1-4826-8de8-fa348fc1ebc3_zps25d89931.jpgUntil recently, Rochford told the audience, we had a lawmaker in Richmond form one of the poorest constituencies in the Commonwealth. This representative from places like Smyth and Russell Counties said just a couple of weeks ago that the best chance some 400,000 Virginians had was that the expansion of Medicaid could be built into the budgetary process. Despite the implied covenant he had with his constituency, he left at the “most inopportune time possible.” That and some other unexpected bad news made it unlikely that the Virginia budget would expand health care to even one person.

“…as we are Christians, we view as family those who matter to the father that we all share. We view as family the grossly underinsured and the uninsured, who in the case of the latter, number 400,000 people. And 20,000 people in Mr. Puckett’s former district – 20,000 people he’s walking away from and has abandoned who now have no voice in the process in Richmond.” – Reverend David Rochford

Rochford told the audience that by being there, they probably have some sense of family obligation; that they care that they care about those who have been cast aside because “we are all in this together.”

“Healthcare is not an entitlement, whatever that means. Healthcare is not a perquisite of those who are insured; those who make it available. Healthcare is simply an unalienable human right because it’s a human need.”

The GOP talking heads (and select Democrats) are going to have to come to terms with the values they espouse. They must either back up the rhetoric or drop their claim to the moral high ground. On Medicaid expansion they have abandoned family and community values, not to mention fiscal responsibility.  

  • va_lady2008

    Chap Petersen, Democratic state senator from Fairfax City, said it best in his blog post on this:  

    “Of the 21 senators who voted to close the door on Medicaid expansion, all twenty-one of them are on state insurance for them and their loved ones.

    “Hypocrisy, thy name is the Virginia General Assembly.”

    The entire posting is currently at the top of his blog (sorry, I don’t know how to link to individual postings):

    http://oxroadsouth.com/

    According to the National Conference of State Legislatures

    “All 50 states provide health insurance coverage for their state employees.”

    English translation: I’ve got mine, and to hell with the rest of you.

    It gets worse:

    Virginia pays 100 per cent of the costs for the lowest cost plan, whether individual or family, and most of the costs of the higher rate plan. In 2013, our solons who are so afraid that the Feds somehow magically won’t pony up their share had no problem stealing from the rest of us.  They had to contribute $50.00 a month for their coverage.

    Twenty one state senators–every one of them takers–voted to deny the Medicaid expansion while sucking on the public teat.  

    And the rest of us?  Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.  Get sick?  Go ahead and die.  Get hurt on the job?  Go ahead and die.  Get old? Go ahead and die. Be a poor pregnant woman:  we’ll keep that fetus in you until you pop it out, but then we’ll let the two of you die.

    Too bad, so sad.  Not only will we get stuck with higher insurance rates to help hospitals stay open, because the should have been Medicaid patients won’t have that to fall back on, and not only are $5.5 MILLION of our tax dollars going to other states that accepted the expansion, BUT I find we’re  also subsidizing THEIR insurance costs.

    I hope they choke.

  • Another Scott

    I’ve seen noises here and there about various options McAuliffe has: 1) veto the whole budget; 2) line-item veto the prohibition of his acting on his own to expand Medicaid; 3) sign the budget; 4) let the budget become law by not vetoing it.  Some say some of these options aren’t really applicable.

    Is there a good post somewhere on what McAuliffe’s options actually are?

    Do we just have to suck-it-up and accept that Medicaid expansion is not going to happen until the VA House and Senate change (2016 at the earliest?  After the 2020 redistricting?)?

    Sometimes choices are bad and there isn’t much one can do about them.  But making smart choices now, and doing the smart work now, can help shape future options.

    What needs to be done now to make it more likely that we have better options in the future?  Pushing for non-partisan redistricting?  Pushing for something like California’s top-two general election system?  Pushing for federal legislation to overturn Roberts’ decision that made Medicaid expansion “optional”?  Pushing Terry to veto the budget to (somehow) force the Republicans to back down?  Getting hospitals and doctors and others to pressure Republicans to drop their opposition?  What?

    Righteous anger is righteous.  But lets figure out how to channel it into the policies we want and need.

    Nebulous things like “Donate to Democrats!” “Be sure to vote in November!” aren’t likely to be sufficient…

    Thanks.

    Cheers,

    Scott.

  • Another Scott

    An interesting post (from May 22 – before the Senate flipped and before they passed a budget on a party-line vote) – http://scottsurovell.blogspot….

    In other words, if there is nothing on the books or in the Constitution, then the Courts will step in and grant the Governor emergency powers to keep prisoners in jail, the state from violating Federal Law and the Federal Constitution, and keep people from dying.  For example, the Attorney General seek authority in advance say on June 25ish – and ask a judge to grant the Governor authority to operate certain functions due to the failure of the legislative branch to act.  

    So When is D-Day?

    Finally, one last thing that no one is discussing.  Under Article V, Section 6 of the Constitution of Virginia, a bill is not final until the Governor signs it or 30 days (if we have adjourned sine die).  The Governor always has amendments to the budget.  They must be acted upon at the Reconvened Session six weeks after adjournment.  If we adopt a budget on Monday, May 28, 2014, Reconvened Session would be July 9, 2014.  The Governor then has 30 days from July 9 sign or veto the budget bill.  However, the budget bill is not law until the Governor signs it.

    Alternatively, if we pass a budget and do not not adjourn sine die, the Governor has 7 days to sign, veto, or line item amend.  Then, we have to act on his amendments (or veto).  Then, he has 7 days to sign or veto.  Either way, it seems to me that D-Day is not June 30, 2014, it’s more like June 15-20, but what they heck, I’m just a three-term legislator in the minority and no one asks for my opinion.  If we do not have a budget before June 15, then the timing gets really tricky in terms of actually get a law in place that is actual legal authority to spend (if you want to be hypertechnical).

    Assuming all that is true, and I have no reason to doubt it, it seems to me the smart course for McAuliffe is to do a line item veto and propose his amendments.  He may not succeed in getting his stuff passed, but his veto of the Medicaid expansion language won’t be overridden.  (If he can’t line-item-veto the Medicaid language, then he should veto the whole thing.)

    It seems to me if he doesn’t put his foot down about removing the Medicaid language, then he risks getting rolled for the next 3 years or more.

    We’ll see what happens.

    Cheers,

    Scott.