Medicaid Expansion blocked in Virginia: 400,000 People Left Uncovered

The Medicaid Expansion was blocked in Virginia.

Last week, the Virginia state legislature voted against the Medicaid expansion that would have covered 400,000 low income Virginians.

Governor Terry McAuliffe proposed the legislation that would have expanded Medicaid in the state allowing people who make up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or $16,640 for an individual, to be covered.

This is the 5th time since 2013 the legislature has rejected the expansion. Five times the Republican controlled body has decided that providing health insurance to some of the most vulnerable among them was not something they wanted to do. Five times they were offered billions of federal dollars that would boost the healthcare industry and our economy, and they refused. Five times they looked at the plight of the poor, the sick, and the disabled and said no, you aren’t worth our vote.

There are racial disparities to consider.

Yes, refusing to expand Medicaid will hurt the hundred of thousands of the poor rural, mostly white, people who used to work in the coal industry in Virginia. Those that have no work, and no prospects. The ones who are too poor to move or change their situation. This expansion would have benefited those who likely voted Republican, but now were betrayed by the very ones they put in office.

But the racial gaps remain: some groups that are less likely to have health insurance are people of color. Hispanics are 27.7% less likely to be covered and non-Hispanic blacks are 14.4% less likely to have insurance compared to non-Hispanic whites at 8.7%.

It is time to examine the systems that allowed these disparities to occur. 

And when we look at the racial makeup of our legislature, can we ignore the question that is staring us so boldly in the face? Why are the minority communities being ignored? Do they not deserve health insurance and access to affordable healthcare?

400,000 is the number to remember.

400,000 were considered not important enough to pass this legislation.

400,000.

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