Letter to the Editor: Medicaid expansion, health care act not magic cure all


I wanted to fine tune some points made in articles that ran recently about Shenandoah County Free Clinic, some of our patients and the impact of Medicaid expansion.

Expanding Medicaid in Virginia would help many people, including Tracy Barb, who who shared the pain of her debilitating condition and the difficulties she has experienced getting the treatment she requires in a recent article in the Northern Virginia Daily. This is because patients with insurance have more options to get care than those who don’t.

Hospitals in our region accept Medicaid and Medicare, as will most physician specialists. Even though these government insurance programs have a very low reimbursement rate, the pay will cover some of the costs, and that is better than nothing.

The point I was trying to make about Medicaid expansion, or the whole Affordable Care Act for that matter, is it isn’t a magic cure all. Many Free Clinic patients can’t afford to pay for health insurance, even if it is heavily discounted by government subsidies. Some people who have acquired insurance find they still can’t afford health care because their policy has a high deductible or co-pays.

There aren’t enough doctors now, much less if millions more Americans get health insurance. Many medical practices won’t take large numbers of Medicaid and/or Medicare patients because the red tape and low pay make it a financial burden for them.

These are just some of the problems we see daily as we work to get health services for low-income families. Free Clinics like ours are needed to help fill the gaps in the health system and will continue to need community support to do so.

Pam Murphy, executive director,
Shenandoah County Free Clinic
and Shenandoah Dental Clinic