VA Lawmakers Revisit Medicaid Expansion Debate
Monday, December 29, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. - Although the Republican leadership in the General Assembly is frowning on it, Democrats and the governor are reopening Virginia's debate on expanding Medicaid. One reason it won't go away is because federal money available to close a big gap in Virginia's healthcare coverage would also close a big gap in the state budget.
As Michael Cassidy, president with The Commonwealth Institute puts it, the state is leaving federal money on the table. Funds he says Congress or the other states will gladly spend.
"Virginians are paying all of those taxes in the other parts of the Affordable Care Act," says Cassidy. "Our state lawmakers are just opting not to bring some of that back, drawing down the federal money that's available to cover more Virginians."
Governor Terry McAuliffe's budget plan counts on the more than $200 million in new federal Medicaid funding to close a budget gap of more than $300 million. But expanding Medicaid under Obamacare is very unpopular with much of the Republican majority in the Legislature.
Critics of expansion say they don't want to commit to enlarging a state program and risk having federal funding cut in the future. But supporters point out the state could pass a so-called circuit breaker, withdrawing expansion if the federal money goes away.
Cassidy says even though Congress has been fighting fierce battles over the budget, it's never shown any appetite for cutting Medicaid funds.
"In all of these rounds of federal deficit-reduction talks and agreements we've had," he says. "None of them have monkeyed with the federal match rate for Medicaid expansion."
According to Cassidy, Medicaid has always been better at controlling expenses than private insurance, with much lower overhead and administrative costs. He adds one irony is that expanding Medicaid would save Virginia a lot of money in other parts of the state budget. He points out the uninsured end up using other types of expensive, state-supported care at such places as clinics, hospitals and jails.
"There's a wide array of services that the state currently pays," he says. "If we went ahead and closed the coverage gap, then the state would get very significant state budget savings."
get more stories like this via email
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Succession is an inevitable process for Ohio farmers, and it can also be an opportunity to re-imagine the land. Vicki Harder-…
HELENA, Mont. -- To honor the Biden administration's steps toward greater ties with tribal nations, conservation groups are calling on it to list the …
PIERRE, S.D. -- Supporters of establishing recreational marijuana in South Dakota say they're pouring all their energy into a new ballot initiative…
RICHMOND, Va. -- In central Virginia, permanent access to land is one of the biggest barriers to farming. A new land-trust model aims to secure both …
BOSTON -- This holiday season, consumer advocates are urging Commonwealth residents to consider giving gifts that don't require purchasing anything…
AUSTIN, Texas -- Supply chain delays have some holiday shoppers stressed that gifts won't be on store shelves on this "Black Friday," or won't arrive …
DETROIT -- As cold weather moves in, state agencies are working to make sure Michiganders know how to apply for the Michigan Energy Assistance …
NEW YORK -- A team of New York-based filmmakers is producing a documentary about reclaiming Indigenous heritage, told through the experiences of an 18…