Medicaid Expansion: We’ve been here before


In a conference call with reporters, members of the Virginia House of Delegates voiced concern Tuesday over the Virginia Senate’s proposal to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, highlighting the similarities between the proposal and Arkansas’ Medicaid expansion plan, which is currently in jeopardy of being discontinued by members of the Arkansas legislature. The Senate Medicaid expansion plan would use borrowed federal dollars to buy private health insurance plans just like the Arkansas Medicaid expansion model.

On the call was Arkansas House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman, who originally was part of a working group to reform the Medicaid system in Arkansas, but later led the fight against the Arkansas model for Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare.

“The Virginia Senate has decided to inject Washington-style politics into Virginia’s budget process, potentially threatening to hold up millions of dollars in funding for schools, teachers, police officers and health care in exchange for ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion,” said House Majority Leader Kirk Cox. “But the substance of the Senate proposal is nearly as frightening. This plan is nothing more than the Arkansas scheme to expand ObamaCare, which some people in Arkansas now regret. If Arkansas doesn’t want the Arkansas Medicaid expansion scheme, why would Virginia?”

Arkansas House Majority Leader Westerman highlighted the issues with the Arkansas Medicaid expansion plan, including a lack of flexibility, no real budgetary savings, and no realistic way to back out of the program. Majority Leader Westerman urged the Virginia lawmakers not to make decisions just for the sake of making decisions.

“What Arkansas has learned is that there is no free money from Washington and the CMS will not give you the control you need to make the program successful,” said Westerman. “I would strongly caution Virginia on moving forward with any plan to implement ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion. Don’t allow yourself to be rushed. We rushed ahead in Arkansas, despite the objections of myself and many others, and there’s buyer’s remorse because of that.

“Virginia cannot afford to have buyer’s remorse when it comes to the healthcare decisions of nearly 400,000 Virginians. I have a number of concerns with the Senate’s Medicaid expansion proposal, not least among them is the testimonial evidence that Majority Leader Westerman provided us with today,” said Delegate John M. O’Bannon (R-Henrico), a practicing physician. “Last year, the House and Senate agreed to establish the MIRC in order to implement reforms to the current Medicaid program before we consider expansion. Virginia should allow the MIRC to continue its work and we should conduct a full-scale audit of Medicaid before we move forward at all.”