Watchdog VA Leaves Out Benefits Of Medicaid Expansion To Attack The Program
Blog ››› ››› DANIEL ANGSTER
Watchdog.org's Virginia Bureau took a shortsighted view of Medicaid expansion by only accounting for up-front costs while failing to recognize the long-term savings and benefits that expansion brings to Virginians.
A September 10 post explained that the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission -- the group tasked with determining the fate of expansion in Virginia -- is accepting citizen comments online. The piece highlighted the views of the commission's co-chairman Delegate Steve Landes (R), who is an opponent of expansion, and only noted the costs associated with expansion:
"Obviously, we're hearing from a lot of citizens who are opposed, and I think this will just add to that," said Republican Delegate Steve Landes, the commission's co-chairman who has questioned how Virginia can afford expanding a program it's already spending billions on now.
Every Virginian has a stake in the future of Medicaid, Landes said. If the state chooses to expand Medicaid enrollment, as it can under Obamacare, the number of Virginians on Medicaid would soar from roughly 1 million of the state's 8 million people, to about 1.4 million.
In the end, federal funding and state funding still comes from the same place - taxpayers' pockets.
While Watchdog's opposition to Medicaid expansion centers on the costs the state will incur, the post omits numerous ways in which the state will benefit financially, both directly and indirectly, from expansion.
Expanding Medicaid would cover up to an additional 430,000 Virginians who are currently uninsured for only 5.2 percent more than the state would have to pay without the Affordable Care Act. In addition, as a fact sheet on Medicaid expansion in Michigan explained, expanding Medicaid will give previously uninsured patients "access to primary care, lowering costs and improving overall health."
Medicaid expansion will also reduce the amount taxpayers have to pay in uncompensated care. Currently, when an uninsured person needs serious treatment, hospitals and providers are stuck with the bill, resulting in higher premium prices for anyone who currently has insurance. In 2012, uncompensated care for uninsured residents of Virginia cost the state $112 million, and around $1 billion over the last decade. However, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that Virginia would save $424 million in uncompensated care if Medicaid were expanded.
Uninsured individuals are not the only ones who stand to benefit from the expansion, as businesses and households across the state would also see the positive economic impact of expansion. According to a study by the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, when taking indirect effects of expansion into account, Virginia would see an annual positive economic impact of $3.9 billion and add 30,821 jobs from 2014 to 2019: