by Del. Margaret Ransone
On Wednesday, April 11, the House of Delegates convened for a special session to establish a budget for Virginia. At the core of the debate is the proposed expansion of Medicaid.
I wholeheartedly oppose Medicaid expansion. First and foremost, the fiscal impact of this proposal is undeniable. Not only is federal funding reduced over time, but the costs associated with Medicaid expansion have consistently been underestimated. This has resulted in the states that decided to expand Medicaid experiencing significant financial challenges and this is an unacceptable outcome in Virginia. The only ways to account for this additional spending are to raise taxes or to cut spending elsewhere.
The expansion of Medicaid may come at the expense of other priorities and could reduce funding for education, public safety and transportation. The negative impacts of Obamacare on the Commonwealth of Virginia are unmistakable. Premiums continue to rise and insurers continue to leave the market. These negative impacts on the insurance market will make life harder for hard-working families throughout Virginia.
As Medicaid’s reimbursement rates are lower, those with private insurance must pay more to offset this, therefore, by expanding Medicaid, the price of private insurance will continue to rise, pricing more and more Virginians out of the market. Those in favor of Medicaid expansion have argued that the proposed work requirement and “kill switch” will resolve some of these issues.
However, the language for the work requirement has yet to be finalized, which could render this requirement toothless, without any effect on actual policy outcomes. Furthermore, while a kill switch could protect the state against the repeal of Obamacare, entitlement spending is notoriously difficult to even reduce, let alone eliminate. Should Obamacare be repealed and we be unable to muster the courage to eliminate this expansion, Virginia will potentially face a budgetary crisis.
There seems to be a misconception that the expansion of Medicaid is funded by “free” money from the government. The federal government’s money is taxpayer money and with further Medicaid expansion, the federal deficit will continue to grow.
The General Assembly was scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday, April 17, for a veto session. My hope is that we finalize a budget so our localities can complete their budgets.
However, I will not support the budget if it includes the expansion of Medicaid.