The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Sen. Bill Stanley
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
Franklin County legislators are opposed to new Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe's plan to expand Medicaid eligibility in Virginia.
"It is clear that one of the new governor's overarching goals is to have Virginia join the states north of us in pushing through an expansion of Medicaid as part of the dysfunctional Obamacare law," said state Sen. Bill Stanley (R-Glade Hill). "When we look closely at the problems with the existing Medicaid program and the budget busting costs associated with expansion, along with the extensive difficulties and disruptions caused by the institution of Obamacare, the new governor has set a very challenging goal for his first year."
Stanley said he is not in favor of expanding Medicaid without first instituting program reforms that are proven to work.
In an address to legislators last week, McAuliffe said Virginia cannot afford to forgo $2.1 billion a year in federal funds by not expanding Medicaid under the federal health care law to about 400,000 Virginians, according to the Associated Press.
But Stanley said the federal government cannot be trusted to provide the funding, and the state's share of the cost of expansion will rise to 50 percent after three years.
"Virginia should not rely on the federal government's promise to fund Medicaid, given that the federal government is over $17 trillion in debt," Stanley said. "Additionally, Virginia cannot afford the nearly $2 billion annual price tag after Washington reduces its share of the expansion cost to 50 percent after the first three years."
Stanley said a system was put into place by the 2013 General Assembly to determine the best path forward before the state "jumps into expansion with its eyes closed."
"We need to give the MIRC (Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission) time to complete its work," he added.
Del. Charles Poindexter agrees with Stanley on reform measures for the current system.
"We recently learned that about 30 percent of our current Virginia Medicaid program is lost in waste, fraud and other abuses," Poindexter said. "And, under a recent FOIA, that approximately $300 billion is lost in the federal Medicare program -- $300 billion is roughly three times Virginia's biennial budget!"
"I expect we (legislators) will continue to insist on reforms that prove to work to the current program prior to consideration of the Medicaid expansion program," he added.
But Poindexter's main concern is the impact Obamacare will have on rural area hospitals, like Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital.
"Obamacare cuts $700 billion from Medicare over the next 10 years, so our hospitals and providers will be receiving much less in reimbursements for Medicare patients," Poindexter said. "Now, Virginia is being asked to fix a federal-caused problem, regardless of the impact on future state budgets, taxpayers and citizens needing healthcare."
"The rollout problems -- exemptions, delays, etc. -- of Obamacare verifies that government healthcare does not work or does not work well," he added. "Virginia should not get entangled and, instead, should explore her own effective and market-based solutions to those in the coverage gap and the financial health of its providers."
To contact Stanley in Richmond, call 804-698-7520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Poindexter in Richmond, call 804-698-1009 or email DelCPoindexter@house.virginia.gov.