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Votes

Letter: Benefits of Medicaid Expansion

To the Editor:

Frank Medico’s letter (April 24) is both shortsighted and naïve. Let me explain. In Virginia, we have over 400,000 low-income, uninsured, and hard-working men and women who qualify for Medicaid (70 percent actually live in households where at least one person holds a full or part-time job). This figure also includes over 32,000 uninsured or under-insured veterans; a third of which would be expected to qualify for health insurance under Medicaid expansion. This is an inexcusable affront to those who have served our country in war and peace. Regrettably, the figure also includes kids going into foster care and adults with disabilities. And let’s be clear. Not accepting expansion funds means that large numbers of our people — men, women, and children — will get sick and die before their time. Does the House of Delegates not understand that actual lives are at stake here? Is politics more important than human life?

According to the White Paper on Medicaid expansion, the Commonwealth’s ranking is a shameful 47th out of all the states in per capita spending for Medicaid, while the state ranks 7th in per capita income! Is there not something terribly wrong with this picture? The feds will pay 100 percent of costs through 2016, decreasing incrementally to 90 percent by 2020 and subsequent years. The question Mr. Medico and most Republicans and some delegates ask is the same: What will we do if the Feds stop or reduce the flow of money?

Let’s step back. Virginians currently pay for the cost of providing health care to the uninsured through the most costly provider, the emergency room.

One of the most unique Medicaid programs is long-term care. Those under 65 and eligible for Medicaid will receive a wide range of preventive services, treatment for early detection and treatment of acute conditions, and the management of chronic illness. The result will be to keep them out of expensive emergency rooms and contain health and long-term care costs in the future as they enter their senior years.

By not accepting these funds thus far, the state has lost an astonishing $5 million per day since Jan. 1 …. that is a lot of lost services for Virginians.

If we accept these funds, money will be saved in the long run by preventing costly treatment later on. When the government’s contribution levels off, these savings will significantly help pay for Virginia’s share of the costs by 2020 and beyond .… most importantly; it will save lives and increase the quality of life for all Virginians. We should expect no less from our elected representatives charged with our well-being.

John S. Glaser, Alexandria