CHESAPEAKE – A healthcare advocacy group called The Healthcare for All Virginians Coalition is pushing back against Gov. Bob McDonnell’s decision to oppose expanding Medicaid in Virginia.
It's estimated that expanding Medicaid would give 400,000 uninsured Virginians health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act but McDonnell says the state can't afford it unless major reforms are made to Medicaid first.
Cathy Revell, executive director of the Chesapeake Care Free Clinic, says she's disappointed because the uninsured needs coverage now. Revell says the state will lose out on millions of dollars because the federal government is covering 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years.
"We believe that Virginia cannot afford to forgo $5M /day from the Federal government to support the healthcare needs of Virginians without insurance while reforms are implemented," says Revell.
In a letter earlier this week, McDonnell told the chairs of the money committee, Walter Stosch and Lacey Putney that he "cannot and will not support consideration of an expansion of Medicaid in Virginia until major reforms are authorized and completed."
McDonnell says Medicaid spending in the Commonwealth has increased 1600 percent in the last 30 years.
Full Statement of Cathy Revell, Chesapeake Care Free Clinic
Today as the Virginia General Assembly works to resolve issues around Medicaid expansion in Virginia, I would like to share some thoughts about the issue as it relates to free clinics in Virginia.
• Chesapeake Care and the 60 other free clinics in Virginia that belong to the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics are committed to access to healthcare for all Virginians.
• Medicaid expansion will extend coverage to 400,000 low income Virginians.
• This will not eliminate the need for free clinics, but it will give care to more people and enable us to serve more folks who are now waiting for desperately needed medical and dental care.
• The Virginia Senate supports immediate expansion, even as needed reforms continue to take place.
• The Virginia House supports delaying expansion until such time as the reforms are already in place.
• The Governor has stated publicly that he will not sign legislation that does not include reforms such as fixing the federal budget and amending the Affordable Care Act.
• The Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics supports the SENATE version of Medicaid expansion because it will give 400,000 Virginians access to healthcare without delay
• We believe the Virginia cannot afford to forgo $5M /day from the Federal government to support the healthcare needs of Virginians without insurance while reforms are implemented
• We believe that reforms already in place can save the state enough money to offset expansion. The Commonwealth Institute estimates a savings from reforms already in place of $325M. This is more than enough to offset the $137M cost to Virginia for Medicaid expansion
• Virginia’s business community, hospitals and health care providers have a consensus of support for Medicaid reform and expansion. It is estimated that this would bring about $2B annually of federal money to Virginia to support jobs and boost Virginia’s economy
• If Virginia rejects this federal funding, hospitals will lose hundreds of millions of dollars, free and charitable clinics will continue to be overwhelmed and there is a potential of losing 30,000 new jobs in the Commonwealth
• The Governor has “moved the goal past” by insisting on conditions such as fixing the federal budget and amending the Affordable Care Act.
• The patients served by Virginia’s free and charitable clinics and the thousands of people without care who are currently sitting on a wait list need care now. We believe that Medicaid expansion and Medicaid reform can proceed on parallel tracks in order to best serve the needs of low-income uninsured Virginians.
The Board of Directors at Chesapeake Care has not taken a public stand on Medicaid expansion in Virginia. The above remarks reflect the views of the Healthcare for All Virginians Coalition, of which the Virginia Association of Free and Charitable Clinics is a member. They are also reflective of my personal views as someone who works daily in a health care safety net charity.