Thursday, February 7, 2013

VA Progressive Caucus on Medicaid


For Immediate Release:                                       Contact:  Lisa Guthrie; (804) 240-1976

Thursday, February 7, 2013                     

Richmond – Virginia families deserve the same health security offered to every other state under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  But some in Richmond are going in the opposite direction by putting political interests  first.  The House of Delegates today rejected amendment language that would have accelerated Medicaid expansion and reform and instead adopted budget language that requires additional conditions and a delayed implementation that would prohibit expansion before July, 2015.  However, the Senate followed the solutions advanced by the Republican Senate Finance Chairman, Walter Stosch (SD 12) and adopted budget language that allows implementation flexibility as early as 2014.

Each day of delay means Virginia loses about $5 million of federal funding.  This funding is OUR federal tax dollars which would support health insurance and our hospitals, create 30,000 jobs, and boost Virginia's economy.

Medicaid expansion will save money, improve health, and even cut death rates right here in Virginia.  Expanding health coverage to more children and adults means saving money, saving lives, and a stronger and healthier Commonwealth.

Virginia Progressive Caucus Co-Chairman Delegate Patrick Hope (HD 47) spoke out on the limitations in the budget.  "The House-passed budget is fundamentally flawed because it contains language to delay Medicaid expansion until July 2015. Denying over 300,000 poor families and children and costing Virginians over $3 billion is not only mean, it is fiscally irresponsible.

While the Virginia Progressive Caucus strongly supports reforming and expanding Virginia's Medicaid program, we can and should do these things simultaneously.  My budget amendment to the House budget on Medicaid expansion would have done just that. It makes no sense to reform the program with half of the poor in and the other half out."

Senator Donald McEachin (SD 9), a member of the Virginia Progressive Caucus, emphasized the $2 billion in economic benefits from Medicaid expansion and called for legislators to "put aside our narrow partisan differences in favor of the Commonwealth's interests.  We applaud Senate Finance Chairman Walter Stosch for his leadership in advancing an amendment today that seized an historic opportunity to expand health care coverage for thousands while also providing a competitive advantage for our businesses."

The Medicaid solution is paid for with federal tax dollars for the first three years, so if Virginia chooses not to fully implement the program, people in California and Massachusetts will be receiving the benefits that we paid for. After the first three years, the federal government will pay for up to 90% of the costs, with the state chipping in for the rest. Even after that, the cost of the program will be offset by the additional dollars that will be spent in the state in the health care industry.

The Virginia Progressive Caucus calls for budget conferees to enact a bipartisan budget that begins implementation of the expansion in 2014.