Letter: Expansion Needs More Data

Letter: Expansion Needs More Data

To the Editor:

No one should ever be denied health care. But, we need to be careful that millions don't get worse or receive no care because of politics to hastily expand the Medicaid rolls. Politicians, like Delegate Surovell and Chairman Bulova of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, tend to use data that suits their beliefs and don't necessarily report any data that may counter them.

The data most often quoted are the number of jobs to be created if Medicaid is expanded, the reimbursement money from the Federal government at 100 percent for the first three years and our tax money is being used to fund other state expansions. Well, for the latter, our taxes are used by the Federal government to fund programs and services that affect all or many states so that is nothing new. Also, the studies that are most often quoted have contingency language about the Virginia Medicaid expansion and caution decision makers to consider those uncertainties. For example, one report that is portrayed as being often quoted states on the front page "The uncertainties increase after 2019 and that period was not part of the scope of the study.” Under the Executive Summary it states “Given the overarching policy issues with the PPACA, the reader should weigh the assumptions and caveats closely with conclusions and findings." Caveats are also included in the Virginia Senate Finance Committee Medicaid expansion study completed in 2012.

Also, given the many uncertainties of the Obamacare Act, there is no assurance that the Feds will pay or continue to pay for Medicaid expansion. If that's the case, what happens to medical care delivery to patients, taxes on Virginians and overall costs in the short and long term? These questions must be answered before any decision is made to expand or not to expand Medicaid.

Further, according to press reports, doctors are refusing to care for more Medicaid patients. With more persons added to the Medicaid rolls and fewer doctors to care for them and uncertainty about reimbursement for their care and rising costs, we should be very careful about Medicaid expansion so health care delivery won't be adversely affected for all patients.

Medicaid expansion should be delayed at least until a thorough study is made to substantiate the data as realistic and dependable before any short or long term decisions are made. For politicians it is hard to do, but this area is so important that politics must not be in play in any decision about whether to expand or not expand Medicaid. All Virginians particularly the Medicaid enrollees deserve no less.

Call you state delegate and senator; you can make a difference.

Frank Medico, Mount Vernon