NEWPORT NEWS -- Newport News Sheriff Gabriel Morgan says he wants to see the Medicaid program in Virginia expand because he believes it will reduce crime.
"People who are treated for substance abuse, because they have insurance, will be less likely to abuse or neglect their kids. That's important because up to two-thirds of child and neglect cases involve a parent with a substance-abuse problem," Morgan said.
He also says that youth with mental health, aggression and substance-abuse problems would have access to treatment, which would make them less likely to be involved in crime.
"Research shows one treatment program that's available to insured kids reduced violent felonies by 72 percent and saved an average of $25,000 for every youth served," Morgan said.
This month, the house of delegates in Richmond introduced a budget that did not include Medicaid expansion.
Conservatives do not want to expand Medicaid because they believe the current program needs to be reformed before expanding.
Democrats say the Commonwealth is turning down $5 million a day in federal funding through the Affordable Care Act that could provide coverage for more than 400,000 Virginians will fall into the insurance coverage gap. The federal funding will be decreased as years pass.