In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling upholding most of the federal health care overhaul, Virginia’s political and health care leaders began the debate over the value of expanding Medicaid coverage and implementing a state-run benefits exchange.
“This is a $2.2 billion unfunded mandate on the people of Virginia,” said Gov. Bob McDonnell, citing the 10-year cost of expanding the Medicaid program that serves the poor.
“It’s major new bureaucracy. It is a major intrusion into the freedom of the American people. This is a policy that stands between doctors and their patients in making the appropriate choices.”
Others say the expansion should take place in Virginia, but cautioned that the financial implications must be considered as well.
Dr. Daniel Carey, a past president of the Medical Society of Virginia, said the Medical Society, which lobbies on behalf of Virginia physicians, would support expanding Medicaid only if it was properly funded to reimburse doctors fairly.
Should the expansion take place as many as 420,000 Virginians would gain Medicaid coverage, according to Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services.
Additionally, the debate over forming a state-run health insurance exchange continued.
McDonnell and the General Assembly decided earlier this year to delay action on creating an exchange, partly because of uncertainty over how the Supreme Court would rule. Some legislators and insurance providers have warned that Virginia could run the risk of having the federal government design an exchange for Virginia if the state fails to act.
House Republican leaders said Thursday that the legislature soon will begin work to set up an exchange. But McDonnell said the state does not need to rush.
(Michael Sluss, The Roanoke Times Richmond-based political reporter, contributed to this entry.)