Medicaid Commission Considers Costs of Expansion - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Medicaid Commission Considers Costs of Expansion

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Americans for Prosperity Virginia organized a rally challenging Medicaid expansion Americans for Prosperity Virginia organized a rally challenging Medicaid expansion

The debate over Medicaid expansion in Virginia drew protesters in Richmond Monday afternoon, as a bipartisan commission of state lawmakers considers broadening coverage to an estimated 400,000 Virginians.

Under the federal Affordable Care Act, states can choose whether or not to expand Medicaid eligibility by January 1, 2014. In doing so, the federal government will cover all expenses associated with newly eligible people for the first three years, dropping down incrementally to cover 90 percent of expenses after that.

Virginia has not yet chosen which path it will take, leaving that decision in the hands of the state's bipartisan Medicaid Innovation & Reform Commission (MIRC), which met for the second time Monday afternoon. Commission members were briefed by Medicaid experts on various areas of reform, required by the General Assembly before expansion gets a green light.

Virginia's Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) found the state will spend $137 million in the first eight years if Medicaid is expanded to those making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line. That's a huge decrease compared with early estimates in 2010, which estimated expenses of more than $2 billion.

DMAS says most of the ongoing savings associated with Medicaid expansion would come from the reduction in state costs related to mental health and inmate health services, which would shift the majority of expenses to the federal government after expansion.

But some lawmakers and others aren't convinced Medicaid expansion is in the best interest of the commonwealth. Hundreds of protesters flooded Richmond's Capitol Square before the MIRC meeting Monday.

The rally, organized by conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity Virginia, challenged the reasoning behind Medicaid expansion. Though the federal government has pledged to carry the financial burden of expansion, Americans for Prosperity State Director Dave Schwartz says he doubts Washington can foot the bill.

"If they think the federal government is going to come through with the promises they've made, then I've got some great ocean-front real estate to sell you in Charlottesville," Schwartz said. "It ain't gonna happen. The feds are $17 trillion in debt; they are not going to be able to meet these promises they've made to the states."

The commission will meet again October 21 in Richmond. Before that, it plans to hold a separate hearing to gather public feedback on Medicaid expansion. A date has not yet been set.



The Commonwealth Institute
Press Release

Medicaid Expansion Would Pay For Itself
Cost Savings, New Revenue Would Offset Cost of Expansion 

RICHMOND, VA - Expanding Medicaid to provide nearly 400,000 uninsured Virginians access to quality, affordable care would come at no additional cost to the state, according to new analysis released today by The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, an independent fiscal and economic policy organization in Richmond. 

"When you fully account for all of the ways that the state would save money, Medicaid expansion would pay for itself," says Michael Cassidy, President and CEO of The Commonwealth Institute. "The icing on the cake is that expansion also would support tens of thousands of well-paying health care sector jobs and generate millions in new tax revenue."

Key findings of the new analysis:

-Expanding Medicaid would produce substantial savings in six key areas.

Medicaid expansion would save $1.64 billion over the next nine years. These savings come from using federal funds in place of general funds for services like mental health and reducing the growth of state employee health insurance premiums. To date, much of the analysis of Medicaid expansion's costs has failed to fully account for all the budget savings the state would realize. 

-Savings from expansion provide options to relieve state budget pressure.

Medicaid expansion would bring in more than enough savings to cover the $1.60 billion in state costs from extending coverage. To help offset the costs of expansion, the 2013 General Assembly created a special fund to hold the savings so the state is financially prepared to assume its share of the costs.  The additional savings could be used to relieve other state budget pressures on key priorities like public safety or education.

-Medicaid expansion will also bolster the safety net, provide support for the health care sector, and generate state tax revenue.

Expanding Medicaid coverage would allow other safety net providers such as free clinics and community health centers to concentrate on serving the remaining uninsured. For the health care providers and safety net organizations that serve Medicaid patients, expansion would provide more funding to cover costs, improve care, and increase their workforce. The federal funds would support tens of thousands of well-paying health care sector jobs, generating millions in tax revenue for the state. 

The full report, Medicaid Expansion Would Pay For Itself, is available here.    

About The Commonwealth Institute The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis provides credible, independent and accessible information and analyses of fiscal and economic issues with particular attention to the impacts on low- and moderate-income persons. Our products inform fiscal and budget policy debates and contribute to sound decisions that improve the well-being of individuals, communities and Virginia as a whole.

Visit www.thecommonwealthinstitute.org for more information.



Americans for Prosperity Virginia
Press Release

Richmond, VA - Hundreds of Americans for Prosperity activists braved the rain to attend the "Rally Against Medicaid Expansion" at the state capitol. The crowd sent a clear message to lawmakers that Virginia taxpayers oppose expanding the state Medicaid program. After the rally the crowd filled the hearing room for the second meeting of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission. Lawmakers were confronted with a sea of AFP activists wearing green t-shirts.

"We came to Richmond today to tell the MIRC commission to vote "NO" on Obamacare and "NO" on Medicaid expansion," explained Dave Schwartz, Virginia state director of Americans for Prosperity. "Medicaid expansion means longer waits to see a doctor, lower quality of care and will hurt folks who need the most help."

A study by the University of Virginia showed that Medicaid patients are 13 percent more likely to die during surgery than those with no insurance, and 97 percent more likely to die in surgery than those with private insurance. A study published in Cancer shows people over the age of 65 who are insured by Medicaid have a greater risk of late-stage diagnosis of various cancers, and therefore are at greater risk of premature death than even the uninsured.

For further information or an interview, please contact Dave Schwartz at DSchwartz@afphq.org or443-797-5144.

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