Letters to the Editor, Week of March 27, 2014
A taxpayer-friendly troublemaker
Looks like there’s a troublemaker on the board of supervisors asking for a 2-cent tax decrease for the taxpayer!
I wonder what’s wrong with him. That move must be highly unusual because he has upset the Friends of Hanover Schools and I’m sure there will be other county employees upset also.
Is it too much to ask to let the taxpayers keep their money until it is actually needed? I bet there are people less fortunate than government employees who could have used that money. If I remember correctly there has been money to surface in the past that supposedly nobody knew we had and it came just in the nick of time to get used for salary increases to get rid of it. Typically government will wastefully spend left over money due to the mindset “if we don’t use it we lose it.”
Remember when our great VDOT found almost $1 billion they didn’t know they had and then rushed to get rid of it. Some of the roadwork was so poorly done that it would have been better left alone and other roads done that didn’t need it and should have been left alone. I bet now they don’t know where the $1 billion went.
Anyway if the board wants to give us a 2-cent tax decrease I’m all for it. I’m sure someone will sell a house in Old Church to a sucker with more money than brains and cause my property values to get out of hand again. I’m also sure the increased value will gobble up the 2-cent decrease.
Hazzard gets it
Praise God for representatives like South Anna Supervisor Wayne Hazzard. He gets it!
Gets what, you say? His proposed tax break shows that he understands that the people (taxpayers) working hard to earn their pay can and will spend their money much more wisely than the people (government) who confiscate and redistribute it according to their desires. It’s been a very long time since I’ve seen any representative on any level, propose that the people be allowed to keep more of their own hard-earned money.
Hazzard’s tax break proposal will actually help spur economic growth and business activity, thus increasing “revenues” for the government, which in turn will satisfy the big government spenders on the Hanover Board of Supervisors, ones like Chickahominy District’s Angela Kelly-Wiecek. A win, win, win situation for all!
Separate Medicaid issue from budget
Over the past months, advocates for expanding Medicaid in Virginia have made claims of savings to the state and compassionate arguments pleading we address the coverage gap. However, there are new realities that undermine their argument.
First, the president has essentially declared that his legacy legislation (the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare) is unworkable by changing or delaying it 20 times.
The most critical regulations of Obamacare are the mandates forcing individuals and employers to buy insurance. The mandates are required to balance the high-risk pools with the hopes of bringing down costs. However, the president has delayed every mandate. And the reason is because he has realized this law is hurting millions upon millions of people.
Why on earth would we rush into expanding Obamacare in Virginia when the president is pulling away from it?
Second, the department of social services recently requested money from the General Assembly to handle a backlog of 42,000 applications for Medicaid in Virginia. If we can’t handle what we have before expansion, how are we going to handle another 250,000 to 300,000 more people in the system?
The proponents of expanding Obamacare in Virginia are not considering reality. They live in a world of fantasy where Washington promises “free money” and dream of elves that can process hundreds of thousands of applications with fairy dust.
The real tragedy here is that the poor are being used as pawns by the governor and the hospital CEOs in an attempt to bring in money that cannot possibly provide the services needed.
We first must separate Medicaid from the budget so counties can properly fund their core services and allow the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission to continue its work of reforming Medicaid.
Delegates reveal their obstructionist tactics
Thank you for your editorial support of Medicaid expansion and for publishing Delegates Buddy Fowler’s and Chris Peace’s explanations for their failure to support this bipartisan legislation.
They argue that Medicaid should be “reformed” before being expanded. They fail to mention that the bill before the legislature, Marketplace Virginia, includes most of the changes that opponents of expansion have asked for. Marketplace Virginia will use federal dollars to provide beneficiaries with private insurance, have incentives for employment, charge beneficiaries up to 5 percent of income as copayment for medical services and have a “kill-switch” if the federal government fails to live up to the contract. The delegates question whether the federal government will accept these conditions, but the feds have shown considerable flexibility with other states’ plans.
Fowler and Peace cite the federal debt as a reason not to expect the U.S. government to follow through on its promise, but they do not hesitate to allocate annually the 20 percent of Virginia’s budget that comes from Washington.
They also only report the piece of the Oregon study that serves their interest. That study looked at new Medicaid recipients and it is not surprising that, initially, new recipients, who were used to getting care in the emergency room, continued to do so. Health care professionals have had success in using education and incentives to change this pattern. Healthcare Virginia’s copay plan is an incentive against ER room overuse.
The Oregon study found that recipients increased their use of preventive care, which is likely to have long-term health benefits. They were able to get medical care, countering the argument that Medicaid patients can’t find doctors willing to see them. Catastrophic healthcare costs, the kind that have forced many Virginians into bankruptcy, were almost eliminated for the Medicaid recipients. Medicaid participants were just as likely to remain employed as non-participants. Long-term studies from the Institute of Medicine show that uninsured adults are 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than adults with insurance, which translates into an estimate that 17,000 uninsured people will die prematurely in states, like Virginia, that have not expanded Medicaid.
The delegates argue that the legislature should take no action on Medicaid expansion until the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission makes its recommendations. That commission has had over a year and, like Fowler and Peace, has made no recommendations to improve access to healthcare for those in the coverage gap. Why? Fowler and Peace answer this clearly by saying that the House of Delegates and its leadership will oppose expanding Obamacare “at every turn.” In other words, their goal is obstruction rather than solution-focused problem solving on behalf of their constituents. If a budget agreement is not reached, Virginians will point to this obstruction mindset in the House as the culprit.
Medicaid is not perfect. Virginia’s rate of fraud is estimated to be less than 1 percent, but no level of fraud is acceptable. Scraping Medicaid because of fraud, though, is as logical as not building new banks because they might get robbed. There are other solutions.
The bottom line is if you or a family member faced a catastrophic, life-threatening illness, would you want Medicaid or no insurance at all?
Mary Anne Pugh
Legislators should pass Medicaid
In Virginia’s General Assembly special session, we particularly urge the three representatives from Hanover – Del. Buddy Fowler, Del. Chris Peace and State Sen. Ryan McDougle – to vote for Medicaid expansion or Marketplace Virginia.
We also want to remind all of our Virginia legislators that they represent many hard-working people who work part-time jobs to make ends meet but don’t get health benefits, as well as many full-time workers who make too much to qualify for Medicaid while earning too little to pay for benefits.
How can so many of our legislators ignore the needs of so many constituents? Don’t they think all of our citizens deserve the same access to affordable health care that they enjoy?
Allen and Diane Neergaard
If Arizona can do it, Virginia can
If Arizona can do it, Virginia can! Virginia can vote for Medicaid Expansion; call it Marketplace Virginia or whatever you want.
Arizona is considered a very conservative state, and yet Arizona’s Republican governor, Jan Brewer, pushed Medicaid Expansion through the Arizona legislature. Why? Because without it, she realized hundreds of thousands of Arizonians would be without health coverage. That would mean the collapse of her state’s emergency room care for the uninsured and would result in a loss of federal tax dollars for her state.
When signing the law expanding Medicaid last June, Brewer said, “I knew I had not chosen the easy path. But I learned a long time ago that what is easy and what is right are rarely the same. Well, today I know in my heart that we have made the right choice.”
I’d like to think our Hanover lawmakers – Del. Buddy Fowler, Del. Chris Peace and State Sen. Ryan McDougle – could follow in Brewer’s brave footsteps.
Do the right thing, not the easy thing.
Disappointed in our reps
I am very disappointed that our representatives in the General Assembly – Del. Buddy Fowler, Del. Chris Peace and State Sen. Ryan McDougle – have voted against Medicaid expansion or Marketplace Virginia.
I hope in the upcoming special session, they will have a change of heart. Virginia needs to be in step with the other states in the nation that have approved Medicaid expansion. Whether you call it Marketplace Virginia or Medicaid expansion, our Virginia legislators need to give almost 400,000 Virginians the same access to health care coverage they enjoy.
Lawmakers should table rhetoric
I call upon Delegates Buddy Fowler and Chris Peace, along with their Republican colleagues in the House to join the growing coalition of chambers of commerce, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and others in supporting Marketplace Virginia, the private option plan that will expand health insurance to hundreds of thousands of Virginians.
Our Republican legislators often complain about Medicaid being broken, but they offer no viable reforms except more auditing. Virginia’s Medicaid program is not broken. In fact, it has a very strong track record of preventing fraud and waste.
According to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, some 900 recovery audits are performed each year. Virginia’s Medicaid system is efficient and operates on half the administrative costs of private plans.
The amount spent on Medicaid has grown nationwide because uninsured people are forced to receive primary coverage from emergency rooms. Emergency room care is the most expensive form of health care. By gaining access to health coverage, people will be able to receive routine care before an inexpensive condition becomes a costly emergency or expensive chronic illness.
Our Republican legislators should table their rhetoric and put all Virginians first by voting for Marketplace Virginia.