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Votes

Editorial: Voting Against Virginia?

Local proponents of expanding health coverage for poor people have a point about those in the General Assembly voting against it.

When Delegates Scott Surovell, Charniele Herring and Rob Krupicka, along with Sen. Adam Ebbin got together to make the case for expanding Medicaid in Virginia, they brought slide presentations, charts, spreadsheets, poll results and more.

It is a compelling argument that expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act is not only good for the health of working poor Virginians, it’s good for the health of Virginia’s economy. What’s more, polls show that Virginians support expanding Medicaid, even Virginians who didn’t vote for Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Expanding health care for poor individuals and families who so far have been cut out of health care reform by the General Assembly’s refusal would create more than 30,000 new jobs, hundreds of jobs in every district in the state. It would bring in $5 million in Federal dollars every day, $1.8 billion a year. It would save the General Fund $285 million over the biannual budget, money that could be spent on education, mental health and other critical priorities.

"Real people are suffering because of this," said Ebbin. "Real people would be helped." That includes working families and more than 12,000 veterans. Ebbin related the story of a taxi driver from his district who had a stroke in his 40s. With no insurance, Mount Vernon Inova Hospital covered his acute treatment and recovery. But without insurance, his access to rehabilitation was limited and as a result, his lifetime expectations are likely limited.

Saying no to $5 million a day is, in fact, voting against Virginia.

— Mary Kimm, mkimm@connectionnewspapers.com