Opinion: Editorial: Expansion of Health Care in Virginia?

Opinion: Editorial: Expansion of Health Care in Virginia?

After years of hoping, it’s possible Medicaid expansion will come on April 11; say a prayer.

The most important, impactful accomplishment of the Virginia General Assembly session for 2018 is set for Wednesday, April 11, after our newspapers’ presstime. In agreeing on a budget, assembly members are expected to approve expanding Medicaid which would provide health insurance some 200,000 to 400,000 Virginians who have been living without coverage, and consequently mostly without health care.

More than 10 percent of residents of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County do not have health insurance.

The benefits are huge. A celebratory press release goes out any time 10 or more jobs come to any place in Virginia. But estimates are that finally accepting the available federal money to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act would generate about 30,000 jobs.

It will make all of us who live and work in Virginia healthier by ensuring that our fellow residents have access to healthcare, to medications to treat contagious illnesses, to vaccinations, to preventive and acute care. We don’t want the people who ride with us on the Metro or wait in line at motor vehicles to be sick without a reasonable way to be treated. We want the people around us to be healthy. It makes everyone healthier.

Virginia has bypassed about $10 billion by not having expanded Medicaid since it was possible.

Now is the time.

So many advocates have pressed for this for so long, that it seems almost surreal as the possibility approaches. While I don’t often pray for particular outcomes, I think a prayer for hundreds of thousands of people to receive life-affirming health care is in order.

Del. Ken Plum of Reston wrote in his weekly column: “By the time you are reading this column I will be back in Richmond for the serious work of the legislature of passing a budget for the next biennium. The outstanding issue to be resolved is the expansion of Medicaid to nearly 400,000 Virginians who do not have health care even though taxes are being collected in Virginia to pay for the program. I support the Governor in his insistence that we approve the expansion. Thanks to all the citizens who have been calling and writing supporting the program. I will be back with details on the budget issue as soon as it is resolved.”

Fingers crossed.

— Mary Kimm, mkimm@connectionnewspapers.com