This week, leaders from Virginia’s House of Delegates held a press conference to announce their continuing opposition to expanding health coverage to 400,000 uninsured Virginians. Speaker Bill Howell was joined by Delegates Jones, Cox, Massie, O’Bannon, and Poindexter. Without any hint of compromise, they criticized the federal government, Medicaid and Obamacare and declared a 2-year external audit of Virginia’s Medicaid program is needed before they will even consider new coverage. By choosing to kick the can further down the road, these lawmakers have abandoned their responsibility to their constituents and all of Virginia’s low-income working adults who need health insurance NOW.
There is nothing wrong with inspecting agencies to identify problems or improvements. We endorse such oversight. However, to use endless reforms and now a new audit to hold hostage quality affordable coverage for these uninsured Virginians is unconscionable. Just today, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis released a new report showing that more than 25,000 military veterans and their spouses could get health coverage through expansion. How can lawmakers justify denying health coverage to these men and women while they conduct more studies?
The choice between closing the coverage gap and a Medicaid audit is not mutually exclusive. If lawmakers want to deny Virginians health insurance, give up billions of dollars of available federal funding, and block 30,000 jobs because of their ideological agenda, they should at least be honest with the public and not try to hide behind another study.