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Are our legislators looking out for us?

Date published: 12/26/2013

Are our legislators looking out for us?

I attended the health care town hall meeting at Mary Washington Hospital ["Health policies clarified at event," Dec. 10] and realized just how badly the facts about Medicaid expansion have been distorted and even ignored by the political rhetoric in our state.

Many participants heard for the first time some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act clearly presented by informed and caring navigators.

As various charts were handed out, a lady in front of me became indignant over the lack of help for anyone making under $11,490 a year (the poverty level).

Navigator Bill Botts explained that the ACA originally set up health insurance for all citizens by requiring states to expand Medicaid. The U.S. Supreme Court, however, ruled that Medicaid expansion was to be left up to each state.

Virginia thus far has chosen not to expand Medicaid. The lady at the town hall was hearing and understanding this for the first time. It didn't affect her, but she was outraged. She said there should be a law saying this can't happen. But there is a law saying it can, so a hardworking, single Virginian making $11,489 or less gets no Medicaid, no subsidy, no health care.

Speaker of the House William Howell has said Medicaid is broken. The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis and the Virginia Poverty Law Center say it is not.

Medicaid expansion is 100 percent funded by the federal government for the first three years. If you believe all Virginians should have health care, contact Speaker Howell and your state representatives and tell them to expand Medicaid. We are Virginians--we are the government.

Jacqueline W. Lewis