The letters to the editor and op-eds below capture the myriad reasons Virginia must close the coverage without further delay.

Health Care Progress Within Virginia’s Grasp – James Hartley
“As the chairman of the board of the largest private employer west of Richmond, I can affirm that the consequences of delay are severe and have the potential to seriously damage our regional health care network and our regional economy.

It will also impact the health and wellness of our community, causing those who have no insurance to forgo getting the health care they need until their illnesses are severe, leading to greater health consequences and costs.”

Until Virginia Expands Medicaid, People Will Suffer Needlessly – Gregory Gelburd
“Sadly, as a physician who owns a private practice, I see these people daily. Sometimes parents without health insurance wait to bring in children until their colds have become pneumonia. Older adults who do not yet qualify for Medicare allow diabetes and hypertension to go unchecked, leading to complications such as kidney failure. I cannot look the poorest of them in the eye and ignore them; I cannot turn my back on them. Nor should our representatives in Richmond.”

Medicaid Expansion a Plus – Josh Pritchett
“Expanding Medicaid is not a good idea for our state; it is a great idea. Why should we allow millions of federal tax dollars to go other states to expand their programs when we could obtain that money and use it here in the commonwealth to help our fellow Virginians and make our region one of the healthiest and most productive in the nation?”

Virginia Must Act on Health Care Access – Michael Kerner (op-ed)
“As the CEO of Bon Secours Hampton Roads Health System, I look at this as a common sense, practical issue. The Affordable Care Act is here now and all Virginians are paying federal taxes to fund it. Why wouldn’t Virginia find a way to bring our tax dollars back to Virginia and use them to provide health coverage to the uninsured in the Commonwealth?”

Medicaid Funding Will Help Lower Crime – Gabriel Morgan (op-ed)
“As the Sheriff of Newport News and a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health Services and Crisis Response, I have a vested interest in protecting public safety. As a citizen of Virginia, I also want lawmakers to make smart use of taxpayer dollars. For these reasons and more, I am among many in law enforcement who hope our state takes advantage of a critical opportunity to provide affordable health coverage to nearly 400,000 people who are currently uninsured.”

Medicaid Expansion a No-Brainer – Jim Lindsay
“Medicaid expansion would close the coverage gap for 400,000 lower-income Virginians, including many of our hardest working, who can’t buy insurance now. Without it, care is delayed until crisis requires emergency treatment they can’t pay for, resulting in a growing drain on the state treasury and hundreds of preventable deaths annually. Expansion would close the gap for 12,450 residents in the Lynchburg area alone. The federal governments obligation to pay 100 percent initially, declining to never less than 90 percent, will return billions in federal taxes to the state annually, create 30,000 new jobs and drastically reduce the state’s emergency care outlays. Those savings would cover Virginia’s share of expansion costs through 2022.”

Virginia Needs Medicaid Expansion – Debra Poirier
“Not taking advantage of this federally funded program that will assist our residents who cannot afford or qualify for other insurance means that our federal tax dollars will go to residents of another state that will accept Medicaid expansion money. That money is 90 percent provided by the federal government and would be a loss to Virginia of millions of dollars that would give our residents the security of emergency and medical care as well as behavioral health services such as outpatient therapy, psychiatry and medication management for mental illness. It also would save on hospital and medical provider expenses that we all pay anyway.”

Can’t Afford Medicaid Inaction – Roderick Manifold (op-ed)
“The expansion will cover an estimated 400,000 Virginians and bring in a projected revenue of $22 billion over the next nine years. Every day that passes without an expansion, Virginia passes up $5 million. It makes sense to have our federal tax dollars come back to Virginia.”

An Honest Look at Health Care Reform – Robert Archer (op-ed)
“The taxpayers of Virginia, including small businesses across the commonwealth, have paid the federal government to fund Medicaid expansion. We, as both businesses and Virginians, deserve to receive the benefits intended from those dollars. It is time to cease the ongoing ideological debates concerning the ACA and do what is right for Virginia.

Walking away from Medicaid expansion is not a true option. Too much time and resources have already been invested, and the impacts due to delay are already being felt. We must act now to ensure a solution is found in providing quality health care for all Virginians. In the long term, these changes will result in a more productive and healthy workforce.”

An Imminent Threat to Va. Hospitals – Beth O’Connor (op-ed)
“On Oct. 1, Lee Regional Medical Center closed. It is dead. The jobs associated with that facility are dead. The money it pumped into the local economy is dead.

Why? Because the Virginia General Assembly has refused to accept federal funds that would have reduced the number of uninsured patients LRMC had to treat.”

Consider Medicaid’s Mental Health Role – Charles Hall (op-ed)
“This issue is the important role that Medicaid plays in providing reasonable access to non-crisis treatment for individuals with mental illness. It might be a surprise for most Virginians to learn that Medicaid funds the majority of community-based behavioral health services (non-State Mental Health Facility) throughout the Commonwealth. There are exceptions where the numbers of residents eligible for the current Medicaid program are relatively low, but among the 135 localities served by the forty Community Services Boards and by hundreds of private behavioral health companies, Medicaid is the primary funding source for individuals who have mental illness and who need access to community-based care.”

Medicaid Expansion is Good for VA. Business – Jim Corcoran (op-ed)
“This is where businesses are affected. To offset some of that cost, health insurance plans are charged more for tests and treatments in the hospital setting. Insurers pass those costs on to businesses and individuals that purchase health insurance, in the form of higher premiums. In fact, according to a Senate Finance Committee analysis, as much as 10 percent of health-insurance premiums are because of this cost-shifting. That means the cost of providing care to Virginians who fall in the coverage gap will seriously affect the bottom line of Northern Virginia businesses.

The General Assembly can take steps to reduce this cost-shifting and help businesses rein in their coverage costs, but some legislators have so far refused to act. The commonwealth can recapture a substantial portion of the federal taxes and fees that Virginians are paying as part of the Affordable Care Act to help cover the costs of providing health care to those in the coverage gap. Washington has committed to paying 100 percent of the cost through 2016, phasing down to 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.”

Va. Needs to Expand Health Care Services – Pat Levy-Lavelle
“The Supreme Court’s decision to make Medicaid expansion optional has created a coverage gap. As many as 200,000 Virginians who make too much to qualify for current Medicaid but too little to receive tax credits to buy private coverage fall into the gap. The Supreme Court left it to states to do the right thing. And so it’s up to common-sense folks in our commonwealth to close the coverage gap. Will Virginia do the right thing by providing health care to Virginia families?

I hope so.”

Medicaid Expansion Would Help Thousands – Doris Crouse-Mays
“Seeking sensible cost-saving reforms is one thing, but deliberately delaying expansion to advance a partisan agenda is reckless. Virginia ranks 48th in health care spending, according to the Virginia Health Care Foundation. New estimates from Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services show expanding Medicaid would now “save” Virginia $1 billion through 2022. Every day we don’t take advantage of this opportunity, Virginia loses $5 million in federal funding. You wouldn’t know that listening to some legislators at the General Assembly.”

Yes to Medicaid Expansion – Rhonda Seltz (op-ed)
“The lives of 400,000 Virginians are at stake while we wait on a divided General Assembly to make a decision on how or whether to close the health care coverage gap.

This critical decision risks the health of 400,000 Virginia residents (many of whom are the working poor), and in a very real and scary domino effect, negatively affects the entire health care safety net.”

State Throwing Away Medicaid Dollars – Patric Sabin
“Virginia lawmakers would rather throw away $5 million every day than extend Medicaid coverage to our state’s poor and disabled citizens.

The federal government has promised to cover 90 percent of this expansion, and many other states have taken advantage of those funds.”

Hopeful That The State Expands Medicaid – Elizabeth Massie
“I am encouraged that the Virginia state legislature may finally accept the Medicaid expansion offered by the federal government. This expansion will benefit approximately 400,000 Virginians who otherwise fall into a coverage gap and are left stranded when it comes to preventative care and face grossly high medical bills if they become ill or injured. These Virginians, many of whom are hard-working persons, pay taxes and otherwise benefit our state with their skills and efforts.”

Cancer and Medicaid Expansion – Katy Sawyer
“Virginians with improved access to quality care will benefit from preventive services, such as breast cancer screenings and mammograms. Routine screenings on a consistent basis will lead to earlier diagnosis, improving treatment options and outcomes, thus reducing the cost of care compared to later diagnosis. The lawmakers of Virginia should do the right thing, and expand Medicaid to assist working Virginians.”