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I was saddened to learn that over the weekend, the delegates and senators we elected have decided to essentially put off their decision on whether or not to expand Medicaid in Virginia.

There are billions of dollars on the table from the federal government, and hundreds of thousands of Virginians counting on the expansion so they can access the care they need at an affordable price.

I appreciate that many legislators are seeking changes in the way Medicaid is administered. However, those changes can be pursued while the state implements the program with all the other states beginning in January 2014.

We need to prepare for that date immediately. With so much for Virginians to gain from extending the program, I think it is irresponsible that our elected officials have decided to delay the expansion.

In the budget released over the weekend, the earliest any expansion could take place is six months after the funds begin to be made available from the federal government.

For all the talk about fiscal responsibility in Washington, it seems wildly irresponsible for Virginia to leave so much free money on the table. Every day that we delay on Medicaid is a day our federal tax dollars go to other states that have chosen to expand.

But extending the Medicaid program is also the right thing to do for the people of Virginia.

It would provide public health insurance to low-income families who are working but who aren’t provided with insurance benefits from their employers and simply don’t make enough to be able to afford any other insurance.

Virginia currently does a very poor job at covering this population, so it stands to gain much under an expanded Medicaid program.

Please contact your senator and delegate and encourage them to include Medicaid expansion in the final budget yet to be passed.

Scott Christian

Marshall