To put it mildly, I’m not thrilled with Trump (aka, “evil incarnate”) supporter and Virginia co-chair John Fredericks right now, but I DO really like The Commonwealth Institute — an organization whose goal is to “use policy research and analysis to advance the well-being of Virginia communities, and improve the economic security and social opportunities of all Virginians” — and I think what its president has to say here is important, so I’m linking and embedding the audio. Also, what Commonwealth Institute President Michael Cassidy says here about Medicaid expansion strongly reinforces what I wrote here on October 13. Key points:
Opponents of Virginia Medicaid expansion have put out (highly) misleading information. For instance, check out this excellent Daily Press article by Travis Fain, which fact checks some of that information. Also, as Cassidy says on the John Fredericks Show:
- “Medicaid’s actual state cost increase over ten years is less than half of what has been publicly proclaimed once you take into account important things like inflation and population growth”; and about $1 billion in state cost increases “are due to decisions made [by Virginia’s GOP-controlled General Assembly] to add new people to the Medicaid rolls,” and many of these people have “very serious disabilities,” which are VERY costly to care for.
- The majority of Virginians in Medicaid are in managed care, which is much less expensive than the fee-for-service population (mostly the seriously disabled), “so we’ve seen expansions of a very costly part of the program” due to decisions by the [Republican-controlled] General Assembly. “The key issue on the table with Medicaid expansion is really talking about a totally different population.”
- This is “complicated stuff,” so it “can be difficult for the public to recognize when tall tales unfairly or inaccurately vilifying Medicaid are being spun.”
- Health care providers “often have a tough time covering costs of treating” patients.
- “Virginia has some of the most restrictive Medicaid eligibility requirements in the nation.”
- “The folks on the fee-for-service side of the program…are a smaller share of the overall program enrollment, but they represent the majority of total program costs; those are…folks like the aged, the blind and disabled…they account for 2/3 of the program costs.”
- The people we’re talking about when we are considering Medicaid expansion is “folks who are low-income, working folks…most of them are working…in the most important sectors of the economy…That’s really the issue on the table…not the ones [aged, blind, disabled, etc.] in the program that has been driving the cost increases in recent years.”
- Actually, Virginia HAS expanded Medicaid, thanks to the GOP-controlled General Assembly, and for the most costly part of the population that needs care to boot.
- “The benefits clearly outweigh the objections…there are ways to design an expansion of [Medicaid] coverage that makes sense for Virginia.”
- The health care sector is one of the most important for the Virginia economy and is growing. So expanding Medicaid would support thousands of good-paying jobs. Also, Virginians are already paying for this program “either way,” so “it only makes financial sense to access those available federal dollars that are sitting there so we can cover thousands of low-income working folks.”
- Federal dollars will cover “no less than 90% of the cost” of Medicaid expansion, “so that’s the opportunity on the table.”
- “Over 20% of Virginia’s budget is federal dollars, so if opponents of Medicaid expansion really believe that the federal government is going to renege on its promises and cannot sustain federal support for public programs, then they would also be dramatically restructuring our state’s transportation program, our state’s public safety program, and a whole host of other things where the federal government provides significant funding to support public investments here in Virginia.” So, lawmakers can “confidently move forward” on this.
Bottom line: Republican excuses for not expanding Medicaid in Virginia are simply not based on the facts. If they’d listen to people who actually know what they’re talking about, like Michael Cassidy, maybe they’d understand that? Or perhaps this is all political and ideological opposition by Republicans, let the facts be damned? The latter is my suspicion, but I’d love to see Republicans prove me wrong in the 2017 Virginia General Assembly session by expanding Medicaid!