augusta free press news

Democrat warns of cut to health-care safety net in state budget

At a news conference in Richmond this morning, Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington), member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Joint Commission on Health Care, outlined the eroding support for vital safety net services in Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposed budget.  Nearly $5.4 million in aid to various programs is on the chopping block.

“Gov. McDonnell’s budget would slash funding for the health care safety net by 50%,” said Del. Brink. “It literally would rip the safety net in half.”

Del. Brink was joined by several members of the Democratic caucus who have introduced budget amendments to restore funding cuts, as well as by representatives from health centers and safety net clinics from around the state. Among those facing cuts are rural dental centers, free medical clinics, and early-intervention AIDS counseling programs.

Del. Brink further detailed the benefit to the Commonwealth in fully funding these services:

There are 59 members of the Virginia Association of Free Clinics serving 114 cities and counties across Virginia.  Their 14,300 volunteers provide $6 in health care for every dollar spent.

The Virginia Health Care Foundation generates $11 in cash, health care services, and in-kind contributions for every dollar expended.

The Virginia Dental Association Foundation has sponsored Mission of Mercy dental clinics that have provided $22 million in free dental care to over 40,000 Virginians across the Commonwealth.