Medicaid expansion has been a very hot topic in Virginia politics for the last year. Currently, the General Assembly is in the middle of one of those never-ending monopoly games you used to play when you were a child where neither side can close the deal and win the game.
Most Republicans oppose Medicaid expansion and want to pass a clean budget to keep all the monopoly trains running, utilities on, and salaries paid. Although we can’t let our guard down with Republicans, because of what is reported here and here, they are at least holding the line now.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats and Governor McAuliffe have remained steadfast over the last several months in their commitment to use their “Go Straight to Jail” card with state employees, teachers, and police officers so they can purchase their “free parking” monopoly card – paid for with Obamacare dollars.
As Steve Albertson with The Bull Elephant wrote yesterday, so far Republicans seem to be winning the public relations war, but a “get out of jail card free” might exist for Governor McAuliffe:
If Governor McAuliffe wakes up on July 1 and finds the Commonwealth without a budget, Virginians very much want to see him lead by executive order,” Kidd said.
“This may be the silver lining for the governor. While a shutdown would mean he has not succeeded in the Medicaid expansion debate, a shutdown may also give him the opportunity to lead boldly.”
However, I believe the prized monopoly card exists with Republicans, if played correctly. Isn’t it irritating when you are playing monopoly and every single property you land on has plastic houses on it that require you to pay taxes? If every move lands you on a property with more of those infuriating plastic houses, you will soon go broke and lose the game.
Well, it turns out that Medicaid expansion would have that same impact on YOUR plastic house (and car). Delegate Mark Berg reported yesterday:
A recent internal study by Frederick Co. showed the devastating financial effects Medicaid expansion will have on Frederick Co. Frederick Co. officials analyzed all locality agencies to see what the costs would be to the county if Medicaid was expanded. Due to the challenges of handling a significantly increased case load, the county estimates an extra $1.3 million would be needed.As you will see within the attached materials, for all of the perceived pros of Medicaid expansion, there is a real fiscal impact to localities. In Frederick County it is estimated $1.3 million additional local dollars would be needed to provide fund, equip, and house the additional staff required to handle this increased caseload.”
Some organizations estimate $34 million will be saved by localities across the commonwealth. Assuming the numbers are true, the Frederick Co. portion of that saving is a small fraction of the real added costs Frederick Co. will face if Medicaid expansion occurs.
Sadly no state proposal for medicaid expansion has addressed these costs, and the state expands Medicaid Frederick Co. will almost certainly be forced to raise property taxes on all of us [emphasis mine]. This is yet another real problem with Medicaid expansion, and an important reason to oppose it.
Click here to read the full Frederick Co. Medicaid Expansion Memo
So, if I’m a Republican I don’t just complain that the Democrats want to shutdown government – although that is big. I tell voters: Democrats are going to shutdown government AND force localities to raise your property taxes, all for the “free” Obamacare money that is not for you!
Abstract discussions on the budget and a government shutdown are one thing, but a sucker punch to your wallet makes this debate personal for people. I can hear the chants now…”Go pound sand, we won’t expand!” Monopoly game over.
One small clarification. I have a lot of respect for Mark Berg, but he is no longer a member of the Virginia House of Delegates.