Who Cares for the Ill in America?

I was Republican Senator Orrin Hatch’s special counsel when he was chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources; I was especially proud to hear Hatch’s statement last June commending the states to participate in the expansion of Medicaid, to cover adults earning 138 percent of the poverty level, thus providing needed health care for those who were ill who couldn’t afford to care for themselves.

An income level of 138 percent works out to about $14,856 for an individual and $30,656 for a family of four. Compare those levels to your income and expenses, and those you may know who could be helped by this legislation.

In Virginia, this provision would cover 400,000 more Virginians, create 30,000 more jobs, bring $21 billion in federal funding over several years into our state.

Democratic Congressman Gerry Connolly, in neighboring Fairfax County, put it this way, if we opt in, our state shall receive “$17 in federal funds for every state dollar it spends on its Medicaid expansion program.”

For three years, the federal government pays for extended Medicaid benefits; the state only picks up more of the cost in the later years climbing to 10 percent in 2021 and beyond.

Senator Hatch said, “No state can afford to opt out. There’s no state in its right mind that wouldn’t take the money because they’re going to have all those additional people they’re going to have to care for.”

Twenty Five States and DC have opted in for those reasons; candidates for office and office holders who had reservations about the program, after the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), came around.

For example, Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer gave a January state of the state message endorsing Medicaid expansion.  New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie announced his support in February.  Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott announced his state will participate at least for three years; he ran for Governor of the State in strong opposition to this Medicaid program and anything having to do with ACA.

But here in Virginia, we’re slow to the mark.

For starters, in Loudoun County, our motto is “we byde our time,” and that’s a fine motto but actually “byding” our time in this case costs Virginia billions in lost Medicaid funding.  If we don’t get the funds, we lose the funds to someone else.

Nevertheless, our Loudoun County Board of Supervisors opposed Medicaid.  You’re right, if you’re asking what does our Board have to do with it? Apparently, Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) just couldn’t stand it ideologically, and she proposed a resolution to oppose expansion by our General Assembly; Ms. Volpe doesn’t “believe” the federal government will actually pay the funds. No proof of that.  No facts.  It’s just her “belief.”  Our Board is now on record in opposition to these Medicaid funds and the care and jobs that come with the funds.

Our Republican State Senators opposed Medicaid expansion as well.  Senator Dick Black, who represents part of Loudoun County, explained, in defense of his opposition, how he personally contributed funds to a single Medicaid family (sounding empathetic – you know – like he really cared).  But then Senator Black Heart threw the girls in that family under the bus, criticizing them for spending $50 on plastic caps for each of their teeth to guard against tooth decay.  Black said a 50 cent tooth brush and paste was good enough when he was a kid.  Presumably, he considered the cost of these plastic caps to be wasteful Medicaid spending.  Black didn’t go even further to extoll the virtue of General George Washington’s false wooden teeth that so tortured our first President.  I suspect if Washington were here today he’d embrace the advances of modern dentistry that Senator Black apparently decries.

Our Governor and our Attorney General (now running for Governor) oppose extending Medicaid and have, as far as it appears, reneged on a last minute deal that everyone (wrongly) assumed would mean our General Assembly would approve these Medicaid funds – for the good of the people – after some “slight” delay.   Our Governor says we misunderstood what this agreement meant.  I know what it meant.  It was a dodge to agree to get his transportation bill passed.

You may fairly ask, what these opponents of Medicaid are thinking?  Truth is they really are not “thinking.”  Their ideological chimera confound what’s in the people’s best interest.

In the swampy political terrascape that is Washington, DC, the Congressional Budget Committee Chair, Congressman Paul Ryan, back from his unsuccessful run for Republican VP, is doing his best to make even worse the plight of those who are poor, disabled and elderly Medicaid enrollees from middle class households.

Instead of the feds helping the states, Ryan wants to shift Medicaid entirely to the States, and here’s the rub, the apparent reason is to give the states an opportunity to cut back, and even eliminate Medicaid.

If the Governor of Virginia hasn’t found his senses by the time you review this comment, write, call, fax him and let him know that delaying and certainly losing billions of dollars, jobs and health coverage is not a sound government policy for our Commonwealth.

One thought on “Who Cares for the Ill in America?

  1. Elder Berry

    One important point you make here often gets lost or overlooked: If a state does not take the money it doesn’t get saved, it just goes to another state. So refusing to participate makes no sense whatever.

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