Tomorrow, the Virginia General Assembly will reconvene in Richmond for a session to determine the fate of bills that have either been vetoed or amended by Governor McAuliffe. This includes a record 40 vetoes (the previous record was 37 vetoes by Governor Gilmore in 1998), and 74 amendments on issues from women’s healthcare to public schools to voting rights.
It can be hard to keep up with this wave of legislation, but there is one amendment that sticks out and has a far greater impact on the lives of working Virginians than any other: authorizing the Governor to expand Medicaid in Virginia.
Due to Congressional Republicans’ failure to agree on a replacement, the Affordable Care Act – sometimes also known as Obamacare – is still in place. It’s far from a perfect solution, but I’m not one to let perfect be the enemy of good when it comes to the lives and livelihoods of hardworking people.
There are currently over 300,000 Virginians who currently lack health insurance coverage. These folks have slipped through the cracks of our current system. They make too much money for Virginia’s current Medicaid program, but too little to qualify for the subsidies provided in the ACA. The people most likely to fall into that category are working parents and, in some cases, veterans who are utilizing their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.
The most egregious part of all of this is that failure to expand Medicaid doesn’t even result in tax savings like its opponents claim. We’re already paying billions of dollars to cover the Medicaid expansion in other states through Federal reimbursements. Expanding Medicaid allows us to not only reclaim a significant portion of that money for ourselves, it will create tens of thousands of jobs in the healthcare industry, and it will reduce the cost of health insurance coverage for the millions of Virginians who are already covered. After all, uninsured people don’t go without healthcare entirely, they’re just forced to use emergency rooms and pass the unpaid costs on to everyone else.
So I urge the entire House Republican Caucus to do the smart thing, recognize that the Affordable Care Act is not going to be repealed any time soon, and allow the Governor to expand Medicaid. If not for humanitarian reasons, then for fiscal ones.
And on a more local note, I urge my opponent to support Medicaid expansion for the estimated 3,100 residents of the 50th District who will finally be able to visit a doctor when they need it. These are our neighbors. Let’s start acting like it.
Candidate, Virginia House of Delegates