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February 5, 2018 · OPINION

Moral and financial reasons for Medicaid expansion

By Kathryn Kadilak
The Plains

I’m one of the lucky Virginia residents who have good health insurance coverage. Not so for 400,000 of my fellow Virginians. They are the individuals who fall into the “coverage gap” that you may have heard about – folks who work but aren’t offered health insurance through their employers or who are unemployed and cannot afford coverage.

They might be elderly; they might live in a rural area where the factory or mine has closed and they can’t find a job. They might barely make enough money to feed their families. Whatever the reason, they need our help. It is a moral imperative, and don’t believe it when you hear that our state can’t afford it. We can and we must.

The Richmond-based legislators, including our own Del. Michael Webert and state Sen. Jill Vogel have consistently voted against accepting federal funds for Medicaid expansion. Why?

They allege that it would ultimately cost all Virginians in tax upticks. There is also a philosophical issue that they may not specifically voice: Maybe those 400,000 souls should stay off the government dole and fend for themselves. Can’t they just go to a free clinic somewhere?

Here is the problem: Even if a free clinic exists in their community, will it be open when they need help? Will it offer the medical professionals and services available to address their health needs? If not, these “coverage gap” Virginians will instead suffer while their health – physical and mental – declines and then go to a hospital emergency room when they are in crisis mode. Who pays? We all do.

When hospitals treat the uninsured, their bottom line suffers. Even if they don’t shift the costs to you and me, they lose money and that means cutting back on services to the community and laying off workers. For non-profit hospitals, our taxes help to pay for their operating costs. When their bottom line suffers, we will help to finance the shortfall.
Health care coverage supports a healthier, more productive labor force. Health care coverage supports preventive health care, prenatal care, monitoring and treatment of heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses more prevalent among the poor and elderly and lastly, can be crucial in providing mental health and addiction treatment.

The intrinsic costs of not expanding Medicaid coverage in Virginia are far greater than any potential tax increase. Who among us would hesitate to pay slightly more – less than $1 annually – so that fellow Virginians could receive much needed health care support?

If you agree, now is the time for action. Please call or write Del. Webert and Sen. Vogel to voice your support for Medicaid expansion.
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BJ · February 8, 2018 at 10:31 am
Well said Kathryn Kadilak! When people say it's not my problem they don't realize that eventually it is or will be. When it's their turn whether through fault, accident, or age (or sick family member) it will be all over but the crying. Less than $1 annually!! When did we all get so selfish and mean-spirited?!
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