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Gov. McAuliffe brings Medicaid fight to Loudoun

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) delivered his pro-expansion pitch in Loudoun County Monday afternoon when he spoke at an Inova Loudoun hospital conference room packed with health care professionals. Times-Mirror Photo/Jonathan Taylor
With mere days left in the 2014 General Assembly session, Gov. Terry McAuliffe is stepping up his offensive against state house Republicans fiercely opposed to expanding Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat, delivered his pro-expansion pitch in Loudoun County Feb. 24, speaking on the financial and social benefits at an Inova Loudoun hospital conference room packed with health care professionals, most of whom support adding as many as 400,000 Virginians to the Medicaid rolls through the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans in the House of Delegates have been unwavering in their obstruction of McAuliffe's Medicaid plans. Many in the GOP have voiced severe skepticism that the federal government will make good on its promise to pay for the bulk of the expansion -- a promise that includes covering 100 percent of expansion costs the first three years and 90 percent thereafter.

Health care systems like Inova Loudoun, Mr. McAuliffe said, simply can't afford a failure to expand Medicaid. Moreover, residents of the commonwealth shouldn't be sending tax dollars to Washington only to have that money dispersed to the dozen-plus other states that have accepted the Medicaid expansion, the governor said.

Oft-used projections estimate Medicaid expansion in Virginia will create as many as 30,000 jobs and inject more than $2 billion annually to the state.

According to a presentation by Inova executives during Gov. McAuliffe's visit, not expanding Medicaid will cost the Northern Virginia Inova system -- the largest not-for-profit heath care provider in the D.C. Metro area and one of the largest Medicaid providers in Virginia -- more than $95 million in 2015 alone.

Mr. McAuliffe took it broader, touching on the projected statewide savings.

“With $324 million saved out of our budget in the next two years, what could we do with that? We could have 600 more family doctors, 2,100 new police officers, 2,300 social workers or 2,400 new firefights or 5,300 home health care aides,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “ … That's why this is so important.”

Last week, the GOP-dominated House voted 67-32 to oppose growing the state health care program. The only Republican to vote in the minority was local state Del. Tom Rust (R-86th).

“Even without expansion, Medicaid is one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of Virginia's operating budget,” Del. Tag Greason (R-32nd), who opposes expansion, said in a recent email. “Medicaid has grown from 5 percent of the state budget to more than 21 percent … This was already a cause for concern, but adding 248,000 to 400,000 more to the Medicaid rolls will jeopardize the entire system.”

State Del. Dave LaRock (R-33rd) said Gov. McAuliffe “is trying to sell Virginians a promotional package and ignoring the long-term fiscal implications.”

“What he isn’t telling us is how this program will be paid for when federal support begins to drop off in just six years,” Mr. LaRock said in a prepared statement. “How high does he intend to raise taxes? What programs does he plan to cut? Pushing a program like this without any plan to pay for it equates to a huge unfunded mandate.”

Yet one long-time Republican, Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Bill Hazel, who served under former Gov. Bob McDonnell and was reappointed by Mr. McAuliffe, endorses expansion. Mr. Hazel said Virginians will send $20 billion on a "one-way ticket to Washington" if Virginia doesn't participate in the expansion.

“It took me awhile to understand the program, but as the economics have become clear … I do believe we need to find a way to insure everybody,” he said.

Gov. McAuliffe, who made Medicaid expansion a key issue last year in his campaign, said expansion isn't about politics -- it's about bringing tax dollars back to the commonwealth.

“This is the right thing to do socially, morally and it also happens to be the right thing to do economically,” the governor said.

“Today, since January 1, we have already forfeited $270 million dollars that would've come into Virginia, rolled through our economy and helped provide care … $270 million dollars, it's gone,” he added. “Every day we wait, another $5.2 million of our money, I remind you, is lost.”

The General Assembly's regular session ends March 8. With the state Senate approving a budget measure to expand Medicaid and the House of Delegates leaving expansion out of its version, pro-expansion advocates remain hopeful the Medicaid measure will remain in the final budget crafted by House and Senate conferees.

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Yet despite SWSWSW’s econ class hyperbole the major business groups in Virginia are telling the republicans to sign it.

Uh, about half the country isn’t expanding Medicaid because it’s bad policy.  Thirty thousand jobs? LOL? Former house Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated 400,000 jobs would be created immmediately upon signing of Obamacare.  Look how that’s worked for us.  Don’t believe the lies.  Before the Govt can spend money, they need to first confiscate it from those that produce it, the private sector. Go take an Econ 101 class.

Looks like business leaders are now turning against the Republicans. http://www.loudountimes.com/news/article/business_groups_clash_on_va._medicaid_expansion543

Let’s see…can this be right?...the conservative, GOP, and tea-bagger position is that we pay our federal taxes which are used to pay for health care in other states and we get nothing for that money here in Virginia?  Seems a stupid proposition on the face of it…

This is a Trojan Horse.  Virginia will be left to foot the bill when the Feds stop supplementing. Remember, this is a part of the disasterous Obmacare bill.  How many still believe you can keep your doctor lie?  House Republicans are not “obstructing” (another biased LTM story), they are representing their constituents.

Stevens the straw man. What, did he get glasses and now he can see. Was not to long ago he was going to be judge for a day think about going in front of that kind of logic and thinking. Now we have a end run with campaign finances to add to Terry’s resume. Trust me he says, yikes!

At least we weren’t MD and wasted $95+ million on another broken healthcare website….
How can we trust Richmond after losing a judge and $30 million towards LCPS….And in the past promised the dulles toll road to go away once paid for…..

Terry is doing the sensible thing by speaking to the constituents of Republican delegates whom he hopes will respond to centrist voters calling for expansion (so we can get our own tax dollars back, among other things).

The reason he has to come here to get those delegates is that the ones in the most depressed parts of the state are also the ones most likely to face a primary challenge if they vote for expansion, even though it’s their own constituents who need it most.

Unfortunately for Terry (and the rest of Virginia), one look at who is sitting in Joe May’s old seat in Richmond is enough to tell any Republican delegates from Loudoun just what can happen if they don’t obey the Tea Party.

This whole nonsensical situation is what happens when ideological fervor takes over from genuine logical thinking. Turning down this money makes as much sense as going on a hunger strike to protest farm subsidies, or surrendering to the Taliban because you don’t like defense spending.

Keep at ‘em, Terry. People with clear vision see that you’re doing the right thing.

@Fred, do you think everyone in Loudoun is rich? Maybe you need to explore Loudoun alittle more. Terry McAuliffe is doing a great job, no thanks to the republicans!!

No one should trust the federal government to live up to it’s obligations. To use that b word this is a boondoggle. Where are the savings through closed tax loopholes? All this guy does is spend. Tax freedom day has been pushed back 7 working days from last year, yikes, no more!

Terry McAuliffe must have taken a wrong turn. Nobody in Loudoun needs Medicaid expansion. He should be in Southwest Virginia trying to pitch that idea.

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