Editorial: Economic Development in Virginia

Editorial: Economic Development in Virginia

The General Assembly prides itself in providing a pro-business climate, but refuses infusion of more than $3 billion annually.

Hundreds of bills before this year’s General Assembly session focus on “business climate,” providing incentives for businesses to locate and expand here, extending tax exemptions and tax credits, encouraging international trade, reducing regulation and many other approaches perceived as pro-business.

Previous years of robust economic growth have been fueled by federal spending in Northern Virginia, but now that growth has slowed due to reduced spending on defense, homeland security and other programs.

But ideology and partisan politics have led this otherwise pro-business state to ignore pleas from virtually every business group in the Commonwealth to adopt a policy that would result in more than $3 billion in economic activity, add more than 30,000 jobs, make the overall population healthier, save the lives of many poor residents and pave the way for solving Virginia’s mental health crisis.

Implementing Medicaid expansion in Virginia would provide a $3.9 billion boost to the Virginia economy annually, according to an independent study commissioned by Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, and could support more than 30,000 additional jobs. (The multiplier effect results in economic benefits several times greater than the initial injection of funds.)

In no way should the decision on expanding Medicaid be left up to the General Assembly that is gerrymandered to favor ideologically driven members who oppose the Affordable Care Act for inconsistent reasons without regard to the wellbeing of the Commonwealth and its residents.

To quote the VHHA study: “Strengthening the existing Medicaid program and potentially extending coverage to an estimated 400,000 low-income adults has far reaching consequences that go well beyond what can be quantified in purely economic terms.”