Commentary: GOP Medicaid expansion in Virginia?

Can we trust Virginia’s GOP establishment leaders when they vow to fight ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, although evidence shows that they’ve actually promoted it? Adding to their dishonor, the GOP establishment in Richmond, Winchester and Frederick County united with Democrats to replace our current 29th District Republican Del. Mark Berg, who’d become Virginia’s best defense against Medicaid expansion.

That’s why I won’t vote for Chris Collins, the “Republican” supported by the GOP establishment and elected by Democrats to expel Berg in the recent GOP primary. However, I will choose the “write-in” box directly beneath Collins’ name on Election Day and use the voting screen key pad to type the name of someone else.

By all means, if you want ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, vote for Collins to help add an additional 400,000 Virginians to the welfare rolls, but for taxpayers who would shoulder that burden, it’s a shame that Collins defeated a true conservative Republican who’s stopped multiple expansion attempts:

“It was Delegate [Mark] Berg who discovered the craftily drawn language in the Virginia Budget that set up a virtually invisible authorization to slip Medicaid expansion through the earlier Budget.” – Del. Bob Marshall

“Delegate Mark Berg was particularly effective in blocking ObamaCare in Virginia this year. His intimate knowledge of the so-called “Affordable Care Act” was vital to crafting our strategy that blocked Medicaid Expansion and prevented Gov. McAuliffe from adding 400,000 to the welfare rolls.” – Sen. Dick Black

What Marshall and Black referred to was House Budget HB 5002 – authored and promoted by establishment “Republicans” — which would have enabled ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, and it did so three different ways. Exceptional dedication is needed to read every piece of legislation, but Berg possesses something more that his colleagues do not, or dare not: the knack for unearthing and exposing these devious endeavors.

And even before Mark Berg was elected, there was the 2013 Transportation Bill co-sponsored by House Speaker William Howell — a “Republican” — that sneakily introduced Medicaid expansion to Virginia. At $6.1 billion and containing $3.7 billion in pork, Howell’s bill became the largest tax increase in Virginia history, and buried within its 582 pages was this:

“The Department of Medical Assistance Services shall have authority to amend the State Plans for Medical Assistance under Titles XIX and XXI of the Social Security Act, and any waivers thereof, to implement requirements of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Yes, it was “Republican” Speaker Howell who first made it possible to expand ObamaCare in Virginia, and then –29th District Del. Beverly Sherwood — another “Republican” — was responsible for promoting it. At that time, Berg was running against her, and it was he who found and pointed out that passage. Sherwood lost to Berg when voters found out, so even before he was elected, Berg helped stop ObamaCare. Needless to say, Speaker Howell neither forgave nor forgot.

These and other attempts to expand Medicaid did not escape Berg’s watchful eye, so it’s no surprise that establishment “Republicans” from our General Assembly down to Frederick County and Winchester lined up to support his challenger, Chris Collins. As reported by a local newspaper March 30, although Collins campaigned as a “Republican,” he asked Democrats to vote for him.

Democrats eagerly complied in that “Republican” primary, and Collins won by 166 votes of 4,343 cast. Posted afterward on the Winchester-Frederick County Democrat Committees’ Facebook page was an e-mail its chairwoman sent to Berg: “I am very thankful you are leaving! And so glad my Dems voted for Chris Collins to fill your position!”

Collins has no motivation to oppose ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion when he’s beholden to Democrats for his slim “Republican” victory, and though voting machines will show him as our only choice to represent the 29th District, we can write-in another.

While representing the 29th District, Berg proved himself as a conservative Republican who has fought and stopped ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion multiple times, and for that, he deserves our thanks. And the shame of it is, without him there to continue this fight, we’ll assuredly get it.

Franklin Fogle, of Winchester, is a farmer and semi-retired home remodeling specialist.

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