Letter to the Editor: Medicaid is a failed system, needs overhaul
With just over a month to go, Virginia still does not have a finalized budget, solely due to the machinations of Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic Party. Without a budget, on June 30, local governments throughout the commonwealth will have no certainty concerning the funding of their schools, law enforcement, and public safety.
This is happening only because McAuliffe and the top Democrats wish to force an expansion of Medicaid upon the people of Virginia, despite the fact that polls show less and less support by the citizenry for such expansion. In fact, the most recent poll conducted by Christopher Newport University shows that over 50 percent of Virginians oppose Medicaid expansion.
The majority of Virginians are wise in rejecting such expansion. Medicaid is a massively underfunded mandate. While those favoring this expansion argue that Virginia is turning away “free money,” they fail to accept the reality that there is no free lunch. The federal government is willing to pay 100 percent of the costs for newly eligible enrollees for the first three years, then 90 percent thereafter. Virginia’s share of this cost would be over $1 billion at best, and perhaps as high as $3 billion. Both of these scenarios assume the federal government will uphold its end of the deal.
The cost of the Medicaid program to the federal government will exceed $4.5 trillion dollars over the next 10 years, approximately 10 percent of total federal spending. The likelihood that the federal government will decrease its share of this cost is high, considering the large strain that it places on the federal budget. In fact, President Obama has already twice recommended a decrease in reimbursement to the states for new enrollees, once in 2011, and again in 2013.
Fiscal irresponsibility is just one of many reasons to reject the expansion of Medicaid. In many ways, Medicaid is a failed system which needs to be dramatically overhauled. At the least, additional study in an effort to improve this program needs to be done before throwing additional funds into it. Meanwhile, Medicaid must be decoupled from the budget so that the business of the state can proceed.
Anna Murray, Berryville
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