Strasburg considers resolution on Medicaid expansion

STRASBURG – The firestorm of a debate regarding whether or not states should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act touched down at Strasburg Town Council’s work session Monday.

The hubbub began in August when the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy sent a letter to members of the Virginia Municipal League requesting they pass a resolution to call upon the state’s General Assembly to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act – commonly known as Obamacare.

Councilman Scott Terndrup, who has a background in teaching civics, walked council through the logistics of the law, and how it hinges on states expanding their Medicaid programs to cover the poorest individuals.

If the state were to expand Medicare, it would extend coverage to individuals making less than $8,828 per year, families of two making less than $11,948 per year, families of three making less than $15,068 per year, and families of four making less than $18,188 per year, according to his presentation.

These figures encompass between 500 and 700 families in Shenandoah County, according to Terndrup.

In an informal vote following some discussion, council members Jocelyn Vena, John “Red” Hall and Kim Bishop voted against the resolution, while council members Barbara Plitt and Terndrup voted in favor. Council members Don Le Vine and Shirley Maddox abstained from the vote to further research and contemplate the matter before voting at next week’s council meeting.

During the discussion, Terndrup said council members’ political stances shouldn’t affect their vote, because their job is to uphold the law. He said the law is built around states expanding Medicaid, thus, as town officials, they should work toward its success.

“There are a lot of reasons not to like the law, but the law is the law and it should function the way it was designed to function,” he said. “If there are losers, it shouldn’t be these people (the poor). If you want to change the law, create a new health care law. But as long as this is the law, we should do everything we can to make this law work the way it was designed to work, especially for the least among us.”

On the other side of the argument, Councilwoman Bishop said those in opposition of Obamacare are often unfairly cast as being greedy or not caring about the poor. She said the law creates a dependence on government and over-regulates the market.

“I am not in opposition of helping poor people, I think that is an unfair assessment of people who are opposed to this law,” Bishop said. “I believe government programs like these create slaves, they make people dependent on the government, they make them vote for people who are then going to give them more money, and the care is not good.”

After the council discussion, Mayor Rich Orndorff opened the floor to public comment. John Massoud spoke against the resolution, saying the Affordable Care Act misappropriates its funds and puts a strain on businesses, which trickles down to their employees.

However, John Parker said while the act has its problems, many of those come from states’ refusal to expand Medicaid coverage to allow the law to operate properly.

The council will revisit the issue at its Oct. 11 meeting and take formal action on the resolution.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or