Bolling backs proposed expansion of Virginia Medicaid program
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling issued a comprehensive letter to legislative leaders outlining his support for moving forward with the proposed expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act, subject to the ability of the Commonwealth to negotiate acceptable waivers from the federal government to effectively reform Medicaid.
“In recent months we have developed a more complete picture of the overall business case for Medicaid reform and expansion, and I believe the mounting evidence supports moving forward with expansion, subject to our ability to obtain acceptable waivers from the federal government to implement critical Medicaid reforms,” said Bolling, whose in his letter referenced significant additional information that has been developed in recent months that supports expanding Medicaid, including:
· It has been estimated that between 2014 and 2022 Virginians will pay $26 billion in additional taxes and fees to finance the Affordable Care Act. Bolling stated, “If we do not move forward with the proposed expansion of coverage Virginians will still be required to pay these taxes and fees, but they will receive no benefits from the program. That hardly seems wise or fair.”
· It has now been determined that there will be a net general fund savings of more than $300 million from 2014 to 2018 if we expand coverage. Further savings can be achieved by negotiating additional waivers from the federal government to give us the ability to further reform our Medicaid program.
· The ten-year costs of the program are now estimated to be dramatically less than we believed them to be a year ago. While these costs were initially estimated at more than $2 billion, they are now estimated at $137 million, a much more affordable number.
· More than 300,000 Virginians who do not currently have access to health insurance would achieve access through an expansion of Medicaid, significantly reducing the total number of uninsured Virginians.
· Medicaid expansion would be of tremendous benefit to health care providers in Virginia, who have been absorbing the costs of uninsured care for many years. This includes several of Virginia’s state supported teaching hospitals, and reducing their indigent care burden would have a direct and positive impact on the state budget.
· Chmura Economics and Analytics has estimated that more than 30,000 jobs could be created as a result of the proposed coverage expansion.
· Business organizations, including the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce, Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce, Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce and Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce, have determined that the expansion of Medicare coverage would be to the betterment of Virginia’s business environment.
“With this more complete picture of the business case for Medicaid expansion in hand, it is my view that the right public and fiscal policy for the Commonwealth is to move forward with the proposed expansion of Medicaid, conditioned on our ability to obtain authority from the federal government to implement acceptable reforms to our Medicaid program,” Bolling said.
In 2000, Bolling sponsored legislation that created a children’s health insurance program in Virginia. The Families Access to Medical Insurance Security (FAMIS) program has subsequently been supported and improved by four administrations, two from each party, and now provides basic health care coverage to over 115,000 children in our state.
“Having spent a career working on health policy in Virginia, I am confident that there is no state better prepared to move forward on both reform and coverage expansion than the Commonwealth,” Bolling said. “Our nationally recognized success in implementing the FAMIS program, our proven leadership in our health and human resources agencies, our long record of policy innovation, our strong network of Medicaid health plans, our well-known strength in program evaluation and our well deserved laurels as the best managed state in the nation are all assets we should be mindful of as we weigh the decision on whether to move forward.”