This week, in an op-ed published in the Virginian-Pilot, former Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling repeated his call for Virginia lawmakers to expand Medicaid to cover as many as 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians. Bolling’s voice adds to the bipartisan chorus in favor of ensuring health coverage for low-income Virginians. In addition, he highlighted the fact that Virginians are already paying for expanded coverage – $26 billion over the next 10 years. Medicaid opponents are asking their constituents to pay billions in federal taxes but aren’t taking the increased coverage, 30,000 jobs, and state savings that those taxes help support.
The Department of Medical Assistance Services’ (DMAS) new Medicaid expansion estimate backs up Bolling’s judgment. DMAS now estimates that Virginia will save $1 billion in state funds through 2022. The new estimate reflects revised assumptions that were made with more and better-informed data than previously available.
Lawmakers have a simple choice. They can expand Medicaid, provide affordable coverage to hundreds of thousands of Virginians, create 30,000 jobs, and save the state money – or they can tell their constituents to pay more in federal taxes while getting nothing in return. What they choose to do is the $1 billion question.