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A legislative commission threatens gridlock on health care reform, but business leaders are speaking out.
Monday, April 15, 2013
Five state senators appointed last week to a legislative commission overseeing Medicaid reforms either support expansion of the health insurance program to cover low-income workers or are open-minded about the potential benefits of that policy.
Their presence on the panel ensures a vigorous discussion of the issue, but that’s about it.
House Speaker Bill Howell has stacked his appointments with five delegates who appear intent on acting as obstructionists.
The commission was established this winter so that its members can keep tabs on efforts to improve Virginia’s existing Medicaid program, which provides medical care to disabled individuals, indigent children and nursing home residents. Members must conclude that the state is getting cooperation from the federal government in pursuing those reforms before eligiblity can be expanded to as many as 400,000 uninsured adults.
Given its current makeup, it’s likely that the commission will offer more gridlock than leadership on health care. It will take leadership from the business community to fill that vacuum. Fortunately, that’s already happening.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce and many local business organizations, including the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, support expansion and reform as a two-pronged approach necessary to control the escalating cost of health care insurance.
“Delaying expansion will prolong the already unsustainable shift of health care costs in the form of higher premiums to the business community,” Roanoke Chamber President and CEO Joyce Waugh explained in a letter last month to Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Many businesses that view insurance as a valuable workplace benefit have been forced to drop coverage because of this hidden charge, but that causes hospitals and doctors to shift still more costs for charitable care onto a smaller pool of employers. The Affordable Care Act didn’t cause that trend; it’s an effort to reverse it. While some GOP officials remain determined to make political hay out of the issue, most of their Main Street supporters recognize Medicaid expansion makes good business sense.
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