To the Editor:
Your recent editorial ["Expanding Medicaid Good For Virginia," The Connection, January 23-29, 2013] is noble in its desire to "extend health coverage to more than 400,000 residents who currently have no health insurance."
If public policy making were just that easy. The editorial then goes on to indifferently say, "the Federal government picks up the tab." As if a reminder was needed, that tab is, in fact, picked up by the taxpayer through either more borrowing or more taxes, and not by the ubiquitous "Federal government." (Plus, states lack a further financing tool the federal government has—printing more money.) There is no proverbial "free lunch."
Then, the logic and math of later offering an explanation of how the cost will be financed requires a complete suspension of common sense to accept. The editorial cites "new analysis by the Commonwealth Institute showing that expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the poverty level would generate state general fund savings and new revenues that would total $2.08 billion and more than offset the state's share of expansion costs ... plus provide significant numbers of new jobs and economic growth."
If "expanding Medicaid to 133 percent of the poverty level" could conceivably generate that kind of revenue, jobs and economic growth, why stop there? Why not expand it to 150, 175, or even 200 percent of the poverty level? By the editorial's logic, if the 133 percent figure will get Virginia over $2 billion in revenue, then expanding it to 200 percent should earn the state hundreds of millions more—right? So why in reality doesn't it work that way? Because on the flip side—and unwritten in the editorial—are such factors as increased taxes to foot the bill take money from the taxpayer that could otherwise be spent elsewhere in the economy to generate jobs and economic activity.
One last point. The editorial says that "expanding health care will add tens of thousands of new jobs." No. It is a healthy, vibrant and expanding economy that will add the "tens of thousands of new jobs" as more dollars become available for everyone to make their choice to obtain adequate health coverage.
Chris J. Krisinger