A packed room full of almost evenly divided speakers gave Virginia lawmakers an earful over how they should proceed with potentially expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. With more than 160 people signed up to speak at three minutes each, members of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission will have much to consider before they make final recommendations.
This issue is still so divisive that MIRC members had to stop speakers and remind people to be respectful of the other side's perspective. They heard from people like Neeta from Churchville, who said that without the expansion, she will probably die. Opponents said with the federal government’s finances in shambles, it can’t possibly live up to its promise to fund 100 percent of the cost of expanding the expensive program for the next few years. Meanwhile, several lawmakers have suggested examining alternatives to Medicaid expansion, which some other states have done through use of the private market. They say these states have been able to take advantage of federal subsidies without formally committing to expanding Medicaid. As of today’s hearing, the Commission had received 1,800 written public comments, and more are expected.