Are you the Ultimate Red Sox Fan? Enter your photo in our contest and you could win fan-tastic prizes.
Playing politics with health care
McDonnell should stop meddling with a Medicaid deal and leave the decision to the next governor and legislature.
Friday, March 8, 2013
In the final hours of this year’s legislative session, Gov. Bob McDonnell gave his written support for a plan giving a commission authority to sign off on a Medicaid expansion to cover uninsured adults.
A letter from the governor to President Obama’s health secretary this week mischaracterizes the deal and puts his honor on the line. Although he reserved the right to make amendments, if he now attempts to unravel the plan, he will be breaking his word.
McDonnell falsely informed Kathleen Sebelius that the compromise in the state budget requires a list of reforms to the government insurance program to be “completed” before expansion begins. In truth, the budget permits expansion if current reforms “continue” and the state acts to “implement” new reforms and “seek” still other innovations. The actions are intended to parallel expansion. Further, the budget would create a new fund to collect dollars from cost savings the state would enjoy as part of the expansion and use the money for innovations, including those sought by the governor.
Virginia would not leap into expansion even if McDonnell ceases his meddling. Several delegates appointed to the commission are skeptical of expansion and promise to drag their heels. The budget deal merely keeps the decision on the table for a year. A new governor and legislature will have a chance to revise it next winter.
There is hope new leaders will embrace expansion, and McDonnell has inadvertently offered an argument in favor. He recently obtained approval as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice to add 3,400 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities to the state’s Medicaid rolls at a cost of $545 million through 2021. The expansion for non-disabled adults would cost Virginia $137 million through 2022 and cover an estimated 242,000 people, including up to 7,000 in Roanoke, 4,200 in Montgomery County, 1,600 in Roanoke County and 800 in Salem. The federal government would foot the full bill for three years and pay no less than 90 percent thereafter.
McDonnell’s letter to Sebelius was released on the same day news leaked out that he had not been invited to the Conservative Political Action Conference because of his support for transportation tax increases. The timing underscores that he is not the right person to make this decision. He should leave that call and its consequences to the next governor and legislature and stop playing politics with state finances and the health of thousands of Virginians.
Weather JournalWet weekend here; chasers' big days