Opinion: Editorial: Medicaid Expansion Will Save Lives

Opinion: Editorial: Medicaid Expansion Will Save Lives

Almost too many benefits to count that will help all Virginians, including economic stimulus.

The benefits are huge.

The Virginia General Assembly, finally motivated by the huge change in the House of Delegates wrought by energized voters last November, passed a budget that included expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

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 could stimulate the creation of 30,000 jobs.

Just including the expansion in the budget made hundreds of millions of extra dollars available for other priorities.

It will make all of us who live and work in Virginia healthier via “herd immunity.” Ensuring that our fellow residents have access to healthcare, to medications to treat contagious illnesses, to vaccinations, to preventive and acute care protects all of us. We don’t want the people who shop with us, 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.

In Northern Virginia, tens of thousands of people who are living without health insurance will be eligible. Hundreds of thousands of people across the state will gain access.

Virginia has bypassed about $10 billion by not having expanded Medicaid since it was possible. It’s not perfect, but now it is done.

"Health care is not a privilege: It is a right,” said state Sen. Dick Saslaw, highlighting the importance. “A lot of us here have had a lot of breaks in our lives, but there are many others out there who do not get these breaks. They work hard, but for one reason or another things don’t turn out right for them. These people need our help, and we have done that.”

Other perspectives on the benefits:

“As a mother of an Autistic child, I know just how important Medicaid is for many things here in Virginia. Medicaid helps fund not just our schools but also our Special Education programs here in Virginia,” said Monica Hutchinson, organizer for New Virginia Majority. “This expansion will have a ripple effect. Not only will hundreds of thousands of Virginians receive the care they deserve, but our schools will also receive extra money in their annual budgets.”

“Now, nearly 400,000 Virginians can see a doctor without fear of financial ruin,” Del. Kathy Tran said. “Last election, voters made it clear that increasing access to healthcare is the top issue for our Commonwealth.”

“As fewer and fewer people have employer-paid health coverage for themselves, much less their families, elections have consequences that can mean the difference between life and death,” said Jaime Contreras, a vice president at 32BJ SEIU.

“The budget’s inclusion of a bipartisan compromise plan to drawdown available federal funds to help hundreds of thousands of hard-working, uninsured Virginians gain health care coverage will promote public health improvements, job growth, economic vitality, and strengthen our health delivery system,” said Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton.

“We are especially thrilled that some 7,000 Arlingtonians now will have healthcare coverage — this legislative action will improve outcomes for their health and welfare, strengthen our workforce, and help our community and the Commonwealth,” said Katie Cristol, Arlington County Board chair.

AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau said the bipartisan effort increases access to health care for 400,000 Virginians, including 95,000 people over 50 who are not yet eligible for Medicare.

“We have been fighting to expand Medicaid for years and I’m so proud to have been a part of the team that finally got it done. This achievement will dramatically improve the lives of real people in communities across the Commonwealth, including over 5,600 people in the 49th district,” said Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-49)

Send Father’s Day Photos

Father's Day is Sunday, June 17, and once again this newspaper will publish a gallery of Father's Day photos.

Every year at this time, we put out the call for photographs of fathers and their children, grandfathers and their children and grandchildren.

Send in photos with the following information: the town where you live, the names of everyone in the picture, the approximate date the picture was taken, the ages of the children and a sentence or two about what is happening and where the photograph was taken. Be sure to tell us your town name and neighborhood. Photos are due by June 12.

You can submit your photos online at www.connectionnewspapers.com/fathersday. You can also email photos to editors@connectionnewspapers.com.