In Virginia, Medicaid expansion can help save both the lives of citizens and local hospitals.
Virginia’s hospitals are under threat of financially flatlining. Treatment centers desperately need federal funding, and healthcare professionals fear that if the most recently proposed Medicaid expansion is not passed by the state’s legislature, major cuts and even closures will have to be implemented.
Healthcare agencies such as the Virginia Healthcare & Hospital Association are asking for funds that are outside the Medicaid umbrella — just to avoid a political battle for desperately needed money. But with a lack of such options readily available, many residents fear that they’ll be left without adequate coverage.
Potential Cuts to the System
As the Washington Post reports, Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, hopes to expand Medicaid in Virginia, as increasing federal funding would allow more individuals who qualify to take advantage of the program. It’s estimated that in the United States, 44 million people still don’t have health insurance, and another 38 million have insufficient coverage, as PBS details.
If Virginia chose to expand Medicaid, 400,000 residents could gain immediate coverage, and by 2022, the state’s healthcare system could receive as much as $14 billion in federal funding, as HealthcareDIVE posits.
But the state’s General Assembly remains divided over the issue, and total gridlock is imminent, as the House majority of Republicans remain opposed to the bill. They believe it would hurt rural hospitals — which would receive disproportionately less funding — and further represent “a missed opportunity to create jobs, increase budget revenues, and build a healthier workforce.” With a heated election on the horizon, both sides are unsurprisingly unwilling to budge.
The Healthcare System Fights Back
However, healthcare professionals know that they can’t continue to offer the same level of care if their outside funding does not correspondingly increase. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association has launched an extensive media campaign emphasizing the state legislature’s need to make use of the Affordable Care Act.
The Association actually makes no mention of Medicaid in their ads, and instead stresses the critical role hospitals play in maintaining the health of the state’s economy.
A round of increased funding would also help support thousands of livelihoods. Of 37 “rural hospitals” on record across the state, 17 currently operate at a major deficit. Mark Merrill, CEO of Valley Health, a hospital network covering northwest Virginia cities like Winchester and Front Royal, says that the hospital may be forced to close its trauma center soon, driving patients all the way to West Virginia for care.
According to the Hospital & Healthcare Association campaign’s official website, “The combined effect of those cuts and mandates, without offsetting policy from Richmond, is unsustainable [in the] long-term for Virginia hospitals.”
Affordable Alternatives Are Out There
Even for individuals who aren’t eligible for coverage through Medicaid, health insurance and reliable medical care remain critical issues. Regardless of the funding a state’s healthcare system receives, citizens should never be left with gaps in coverage.
SingleCare, now available all over the great state of Virginia, provides affordable healthcare options for individuals with or without insurance. SingleCare works directly with medical professionals to reduce a patient’s associated costs by up to 60%.
With a wide network of services available — from general practitioners to chiropractic to dental — customers can make informed decisions about their care, and only pay for the treatment they need and receive. Better yet, SingleCare pre-negotiates the rates it offers to ensure that members never face a surprise bill in the mail.
The issue of increasing Medicaid funding may be trapped in political gridlock, but patients should be able to find affordable and effective care no matter what the circumstances.
(Main image credit: Daniel Lobo/flickr)