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Speak Out: Should Virginia Opt Out of Medicaid Expansion?

As Virginia lawmakers disagree over Affordable Care Act provision, tell us: Would participating in the expansion help or hurt the state?

As Gov. Bob McDonnell considers opting out of the , Virginia lawmakers are divided on whether the program would help or hurt the state.

In a letter to McDonnell on Thursday, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican who has announced a 2013 gubernatorial bid, encouraged the governor to reject the program, saying Medicaid expansion — which he says accounts for nearly 20 percent of Virginia's total general fund spending — would place "tremendous fiscal pressure on the Commonwealth and divert funds from other state programs, such as public education, higher education, public safety, natural resource protection and even other critically important health care programs."

McDonnell sent a letter to Virginia lawmakers Tuesday expressing his concerns with the program, saying opting into a Medicaid expansion — which would require the state to create exchanges through which residents could buy health insurance — without more policy information was irresponsible, according to the Washington Post.

The Republican governor said the program, and costs associated with it, could ultimately be unnecessary if a new Congress and president elected in November are able to repeal the act in 2013, the Post reported.

In his own letter to the governor and other leaders, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, (D-11th District) said opting out of the program was a "costly mistake," one that would cause Virginia to lose out on the $9.2 billion in federal funds he says the state would receive in first five years of the program.

Connolly said federal funds would cover the first three years of the program, which would help about a quarter million uninsured Virginia residents.

"The choice we face as Virginia’s leaders is momentous. Will we move forward together to implement these historic reforms, reversing our unsustainable trajectory of spiraling costs? Or will we allow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leverage billions of dollars of federal funds to help Virginia’s families, businesses, and bottom line?" Connolly wrote. "I urge you to seize this opportunity to make life better for all Virginians."

For every dollar Virginia spends on the program, it would receive $17 in federal money, the Post reported.

Bolling said increasing Medicaid enrollment, which he predicted would double by 2022, would cost $2.1 billion from the state general fund and another $31.3 billion in taxpayer money in that time.

Connolly cited figures from Virginia Health Reform Initiative Advisory Council, a committee McDonnell formed to help plan the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, that showed "ACA reforms, including the Medicaid expansion, would reduce uncompensated care costs borne by Virginia’s government, families, businesses, and hospitals by $860 million."

For the full Washington Post story, click here.

Tell us: Would participating in the expansion help or hurt the state? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

To see Connolly speaking on the Supreme Court's June health care decision, and McDonnell speaking on his recent letter, watch the videos in the media player above.

Piccadilly Circus July 15, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Huge Fiscal Incentive to Opt Out of ObamaCare's Medicaid Expansion http://www.forbes.com/sites/aroy/2012/07/13/why-states-have-a-huge-fiscal-incentive-to-opt-out-of-obamacares-medicaid-expansion/ Quote, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.”
Dave July 15, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Not to mention the Bush tax cuts. These factors (the two unfunded wars, prescription drug benefit and Bush tax cuts) account for about 60% of the deficit spending - and they are cumulative. Somehow the irrational right always puts the blame on Obama. Incredible sophistry. At the risk of repeating myself: "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith
REDRUBYBLUEZ August 01, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Virginia officials are always trying to prove a point but the thing is that many people will be able to work if the medicaid limit is $14,000 for income level in which many people who want to get of SSI can do so and then it will help social Security plus it will help many people who cannot afford health care but remember there was going to be a way for people with low incomes to not have to pay for co- pays and Deductables and plus they will have federal help so I say GO FOR OBAMA CARE!!
Anne October 03, 2012 at 01:30 PM
You know, Virginia will likely reject it over a I'm a Republican and Obama is a democrat thing. Rather than look at the reimbursement that Doctors and Hospitals will actually get in their pockets from people who usually have unpaid bills. That means its back in the economy. Mary Washington Hospital will have to stop dumping patients on Inova hospitals and MCV in Richmond. Mary Washington refuses to treat poor Uninsured Americans except to give them pain pills and then they go up the highway. This way, no more dumping.. That alone is worth it to me. Next, we need to insure all people! It's not right that folks die when their illnesses could be caught with regular medical care. Blood Pressure kills people daily and its so easy to treat with yearly medical check ups. Same with Diabetes. Compassion for those less fortunate is what is needed...And there is no excuse at all for poor children to not get regular medical and dental care. NEVER
Anne October 03, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Just like the dems have been and are running calif? LOL Umm hate to tell you but our federal debt is mostly from past administrations and wars. Something not paid for. We are still paying debt from Reagan and you are complaining now? ok George Allen is the spender in Chief of this state dear. All for prisons and life sentences for smoking a joint. Not only that but Allen helped the massive DC debt and had the nads to vote himself four raises. So put the blame where it belongs. on Republicans and Democrats. Not just one party. Ignorance is a mighty sad thing...

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