Gov. Terry McAuliffe is threatening to shut down state government over Medicaid expansion. Inserting Medicaid expansion into the state budget violates last year’s bipartisan House/Senate agreement creating the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC).
The public largely doesn’t understand the details of the expansion, but the more they know the less they appear to like it. In just two months, polling has registered an 18 percent drop in support statewide for the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Why such a drastic swing? Forbes magazine said this in an April 24 article, “Once they learn it is part of Obamacare, is partially paid for by reductions in payments in Medicare, largely is for able-bodied childless adults, could increase their own health care costs and will crowd out spending on other public priorities, they often flip their support and become strongly opposed to expansion.”
Many folks assert that Virginia is passing up millions of federal dollars by not accepting money from Washington for an Obamacare Medicaid expansion. Yes, the federal dollars are dangling in front of the Virginia legislature like a carrot on a stick. Some of those dollars are our taxes, but once those Obamacare tax increase dollars leave Virginia there is absolutely no guarantee they will be managed responsibly or returned to Virginia.
Virginians would be extremely naive to think that being taxed under Obamacare means we’ll get our money back. Medicaid expansion will add to the national debt which will be passed on to our children. That needs to stop.
Regardless of what supporters say, Medicaid expansion is a bad deal for Virginia, adding billions of new spending to the commonwealth’s budget over the next 10 years. Even the smallest change in the federal match would wreak havoc on the state budget. Medicaid already crowds out spending on other state programs, including K-12 education and road construction and repairs. Increasing Medicaid costs will either force cuts in other services or force Virginia to dramatically raise taxes, again, to pay for this costly entitlement expansion.
Holding the state budget hostage is an even worse idea. In recent years, organizations like CNBC and Forbes have consistently ranked Virginia as the No. 1 or No. 2 state in the nation for business. Virginia is one of the few states in the nation with a AAA bond rating which allows it to borrow money at the most competitive interest rates available. This saves millions in taxpayer dollars.
Stalling our budget could threaten our AAA bond rating. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce issued a statement that the General Assembly should “set aside any issues that may cause an impasse” and pass a budget on time.
We should all urge Gov. McAuliffe and Sen. Wexton to drop their insistence on Medicaid expansion so Virginia will have the budget we need now.
Del. Dave LaRock (R-Dist. 33)