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Town Hall Meeting Centers on Medicaid Expansion - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Town Hall Meeting Centers on Medicaid Expansion

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With thousands uninsured in Virginia and the state budget hanging on Medicaid expansion, it's become a heated topic throughout the state. Monday night, people in the Shenandoah Valley got a chance to weigh in.

Americans for Prosperity hosted a town hall meeting about Medicaid expansion while 20th District Delegate Dickie Bell (R) took the reins. Bell says reform is needed and opposes Medicaid expansion.

“The commonwealth of Virginia already draws down nearly twice as much as we pay in federal taxes. How much more are we likely to get with Medicaid expansion?” he said.

But others who attended Monday night’s meeting at the Waynesboro Public Library spoke in favor of expansion.

“I am really ashamed of the state of Virginia if it does not step up and expand Medicaid,” Ruth Jost said.

For the first three years the federal government covers 100 percent of the cost for states that choose to expand Medicaid. After that, Virginia would be responsible for 10 percent.

Bell says he sees the need for expansion, but says it's not sustainable.

“Because at the other end there is no savings. There are expenses, and they will be considerable. And both Governor McAuliffe and Secretary Hazel said they didn't have a plan even for the 10 percent they would have to pay when that 100 percent is reduced to 90 percent,” Bell said.

Jost says turning away federal money is an odd standard to use.

“We don't say that about any other kind of federal spending. We accept federal dollars for defense contracts. We accept federal dollars for agriculture. We accept federal dollars for education. We accept federal dollars for the highway and we're smart to do it,” she said.

But Jost says it's not the same when it comes to expanding Medicaid, something she believes takes moral precedence. In the meantime, an estimated 400,000 Virginians slip through the cracks.

“It's our neighbors, it's our friends, it's people that we know,” Jost said.

Bell says the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission has already found ways to save money in the current Medicaid system and hopes they continue to do so.

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