To the editor: I recently attended a Senate Finance Committee meeting held in Richmond where those on both sides of Medicaid expansion were given three minutes to voice their opinions. It was a long day, and the senators sitting on the committee were obviously growing tired and asked that if a topic had already been covered that folks attending would not speak. Since participants before me had already addressed my concerns over not expanding Medicaid, I declined to speak.
I regret that decision.
We must continue to be a voice for those who will be left out because Medicaid expansion has become a pawn in state and national politics. I am sure the members of the General Assembly are very tired of debating this subject. But not as tired as those whose lives are affected by their not expanding Medicaid.
They are tired of being sick because they do not qualify for other insurance under the ACA and cannot afford specialty care, hospital care or other expensive treatments. They are tired of seeing family members have no quality of life, from dying before their time due to lack of care. They are tired of waiting as they are held hostage to a system that does not work for them.
Those of us on the front lines of health care are tired of having patients sit in our office in tears because they have nowhere to turn to get the care they need for themselves or a family member. Of course we must pass a state budget and be fiscally prudent. In the past any reform to Medicaid has been included in the budget. To not do so would make it impossible to free up to about $200 million in taxpayer funds that could be reappropriated to schools and other agencies.
Those against Medicaid expansion were adamant it be decoupled and negotiated separately, but the concern is they have not offered any ideas on how they would handle Medicaid expansion. It leaves one feeling that once the budget is passed the Medicaid expansion discussion would go away.
(Posted: June 17, 2014 at www.godanriver.com)