On Thursday, August 17, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe released a statement that indicated his intent to expand ObamaCare in Virginia in his outgoing biennial budget. The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) opposes Gov. McAuliffe’s attempt to expand Medicaid to able-bodied adults and applauds the Virginia General Assembly for resisting the legislation.
The expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare to able-bodied, childless adults has put the Medicaid safety net at risk for the truly needy and has jeopardized funding for other critical priorities such as public safety, education, and infrastructure. In Virginia, Medicaid costs are projected to rise nearly $300 million through fiscal year 2018—consuming the largest share of available revenue—even with enrollment levels staying the same. Even without expanding Medicaid, the state is faced with unsustainable costs and a budget shortfall that is already straining available funds for public services.
FGA’s research has shown that the expansion of ObamaCare redirects valuable resources away from the most vulnerable citizens as it opens enrollment to able-bodied adults. In Kentucky, Medicaid expansion cost the state $3.6 billion in the program’s first 18 months—more than double the $1.8 billion that was projected. Results have been just as disastrous in neighboring West Virginia, where Medicaid enrollment exceeded the projected maximum in just three months and has cost nearly double what the state anticipated. Now that states have started to pay for a share of expansion costs, the burden of the costs is being placed on state taxpayers—Kentucky budget officials have estimated that the program will cost taxpayers more than $1.2 billion over the next five years. Virginia cannot afford to place this burden on its citizens.
While the expansion of Medicaid has detrimental effects on state budgets, it inflicts the most damage on the most vulnerable members of communities. Nationwide, more than 640,000 needy individuals languish on Medicaid waiting lists while able bodied adults receive benefits. Some of these children and adults have been waiting for services they desperately need for years—and some may never receive the care. In Illinois, more than 800 individuals have died waiting for services after the state voted to expand ObamaCare, and the state is not alone. In Arkansas, 79 people died waiting for care while the state expanded coverage to able-bodied adults. The prioritization of able-bodied adults threatens the truly needy and creates a new class of individuals trapped in government dependence.
“In every state that has expanded it, ObamaCare has been a massive policy failure. Medicaid expansion continues to wreak havoc on state’s budgets and threaten valuable resources for the truly needy,” said Tarren Bragdon, CEO of FGA. “States like Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky have seen the devastation caused by expansion and are working to reverse its impact through enrollment freezes and work requirements. Virginia policymakers should follow these states to preserve the hard-earned tax dollars of their constituents and fight to protect resources for the most vulnerable members of their communities. Expanding Medicaid is not the answer in Virginia.”
The Foundation for Government Accountability is a non–profit, multi–state think tank that specializes in health care, welfare, and regulatory reform. To learn more, visit TheFGA.org.