Healthcare has been one of the burning topics in the media over the past few months. Medicaid expansion is an issue that is being talked about quite a bit in Richmond. However, there are many of us who don’t think Medicaid expansion is the right approach for Virginia at this time.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Medicaid enrollment is increasing rapidly – 1600% in the last 30 years! It now consumes over 22% of general fund spending and threatens to crowd out other core services the government provides including education and public safety.
In his address to the Joint Session, our new governor, Terry McAuliffe, has urged Virginia lawmakers to accept ObamaCare funds of $1 billion each year to expand the Medicaid program. But many House Republicans have reasons for opposing this expansion at this time.
First, the rollout of ObamaCare is demonstrating that government-run healthcare does not work well, if it “works” at all. President Obama promises to pay for Medicaid expansion, but he also promised you could keep your doctor and your health insurance plan as well. Virginians cannot always trust these promises and expanding Medicaid would potentially entangle Virginia in the ObamaCare mess.
Secondly, Medicaid still needs some serious reforms. Costs are out of control, patients are receiving poor quality care and the program is full of waste, fraud, and abuse. One-third of Virginia doctors refuse to accept new Medicaid patients. In addition, in 2013 alone, nearly $200 million in Medicaid fraud was discovered and collected. I cannot imagine how much is never discovered. You simply can’t fix a broken problem by making it bigger!
Finally, there are long-term cost concerns that come with the expansion of Medicaid. Expansion would put Virginia taxpayers on the hook for over $1 billion in new spending a year. The federal government has promised to pay 100% of the cost of expansion for the first three years and 90% after that, but, as I said before, Virginians can’t trust these promises. With the federal government $17 trillion in debt, borrowing 40 cents of every dollar spent, and facing massive deficits every year, eventually the money will run out! The U.S.’s present path is mathematically unsustainable. Without a doubt, the federal government will eventually have to unload these astronomical costs onto Virginia’s taxpayers. So if we accepted Medicaid expansion and then find that we have to come up with $1 Billion per year to cover these costs, we will have to make drastic cuts to vital Virginia programs like education, public safety, and transportation, or raise taxes on hard working Virginians like you.
The bottom line is, it would be irresponsible to make a decision for the sake of making a decision when it comes to Medicaid expansion. While this may be acceptable in Washington, I don’t believe it should be in Virginia.
I am not opposed to Medicaid expansion. I am not a “my way or the highway” kind of guy. If we can afford it, I want to take care of as many people who are unable to care for themselves. However, I will vote to accept Medicaid expansion if and only if three criteria are met:
- Virginia get written assurance in the form of a federal statute that says Virginia can walk away from Medicaid expansion if the federal government fails to pay its promised 90 percent.
- Virginia be allowed to implement reforms to save enough money so that Medicaid expansion does not cost us anymore than we are paying now.
- Virginia be allowed to aggressively seek and prosecute fraud. There are numerous federals laws denying our inspectors access to Medicaid payment and authorization information.