The following post is by Dr. Christopher Lillis of Fredericksburg:
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or have buried your head in the ideological sand, you should have noticed the newspaper editorials calling for Medicaid Expansion in Virginia. You may not know that the majority of Virginians want to close the health insurance coverage gap. Virginia hospitals, health insurance plans, physicians, consumer groups, Chambers of Commerce, and even Republicans and former appointees of Governor McDonnell SUPPORT closing the coverage gap. It’s not very often when you see the Chamber of Commerce lobby for an issue alongside faith groups, nor is it common for the hospitals, doctors and health insurance companies to be playing well together. But expanding access to health insurance has brought together advocates for social justice and fiscal conservatives in this common cause.
Closing the coverage gap will extend health insurance to hundreds of thousands of our fellow Virginians, boost economic output for the entire state, make health insurance less expensive for those already insured, and return the taxpayer dollars already being paid by Virginians back to the Commonwealth.
Seems a no brainer. So what’s the hold up?
Speaker of the House of Delegates William “Bill” Howell is the hold up. Rather than work with his fellow Republicans in the Virginia State Senate, he is going to local Boards of Supervisors and demanding they put forth resolutions to derail current negotiations over expansion. With his almost 30 years in the General Assembly, he has amassed significant power in Richmond. He stacked the Medicaid Innovation Reform Commission (MIRC) with ideologues who have no intention of closing the coverage gap.
This decision to dig his ideological heels in leaves Speaker Howell voting against keeping rural hospitals open, against creating jobs, and FOR Virginians dying. Why would he vote against his very constituents?
Because he votes for someone else. As a member of the Board of Directors of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), he serves their funders. ALEC has propagated Stand Your Ground Laws among other disastrous pieces of legislation. They are funded by powerful special interests who want to cripple the watchdogs of unscrupulous businesses leading to an ever worsening quality of life for the middle and working class. Examining the ALEC “Model Legislation” page, one will find a proposal to limit the legal liability against claims of injury allegedly arising from lead poisoning.
So there you have it. Speaker Bill Howell. He will vote for ALEC, but not Virginia. He will vote to protect those who poison our children with lead, but not to extend health insurance to hard working Virginians. Call Speaker Howell and let him know how you feel about this. We need to close the coverage gap immediately.