February 17, 2014
The refusal by House budget writers to close the coverage gap in Virginia takes their disregard for Virginia’s needs to new heights. Their proposal would turn down billions of federal dollars that could help Virginia and leave thousands of their own constituents without much-needed health care coverage. Instead, they are offering a paltry consolation prize to hospitals and other safety net providers that is both stunningly inadequate and squanders scarce state funds.
Taken at face value, the House scheme allocates $86.9 million to the safety net, with $50.6 million of that coming from state funds and the rest from federal funds. Most of that money restores a previous cut to hospital reimbursement rates and tries to catch up with the cost of inflation. Back that out as something the state already should have been paying for, and all you get is $6 million in “new” money.
Even including all the funding, the House scheme doesn’t come anywhere close to the investment legislators could be making by accepting the $2.9 billion in federal funds over the next two years already allocated for the state to close the coverage gap.
No one should be fooled by this. The House budget writers are refusing to help more working Virginians get medical care; they are declining a massive influx of federal dollars that would both pay for health coverage and relieve other state budget pressures; and they are squandering hundreds of millions of Virginia taxpayer dollars each year in lost budget savings and unnecessary costs.
That’s both bad math and a bad deal for Virginia.
–Massey Whorley, Senior Policy Analyst