Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Senate Finance Committee Meeting
Testimony given by Sean Lansing, AFP-Virginia State Director
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am here today on behalf of Americans for Prosperity, and our 85,000 Virginia activists and 8.1 million Virginians who deserve a state budget that funds core services such as K-12 education and public safety.
ObamaCare and Medicaid expansion are contentious issues that should be debated on their merits, not their politics. At this point in the budget process, health care has become a purely political bargaining chip in negotiations. In order to move Virginia forward, we must move past this issue in the budget process.
At Americans for Prosperity, we believe that we would be doing a great disservice to Virginia’s most vulnerable citizens, by simply doubling down on a failed program that is proven to deliver poor outcomes and inferior services.
That is why we fully support the House of Delegates’ plan to perform a comprehensive audit of Virginia’s Medicaid program.
Instead of blindly expanding a program that is both broken and costly, we should examine it from top to bottom, so that we can find out what works and what doesn’t. This is the best way to deliver quality and affordable health care to those who need it most.
It is also important to note that expanding Medicaid isn’t the cure-all for eliminating Virginia’s coverage gap that some claim it is.
It is no secret that one of the most common tools used by states to control Medicaid costs is to adjust payment rates for health care providers serving Medicaid patients.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 39 states implemented rate restrictions on providers in fiscal year 2013, and 34 states have adopted restrictions so far in 2014.
The consequence of these provider cuts is that fewer providers are willing to participate in the program as a result of the lower reimbursement rates.
The more people that are added to the program, the more provider payments are reduced, resulting in fewer and fewer providers that are willing to accept the higher number of patients.
With the number of physicians accepting Medicaid patients already in decline, this is a phenomenon that is well under way—and one that will only get worse as Medicaid expands to cover patients it was never designed to; which, in turn, is hurting our most vulnerable citizens by making it even harder for them to access quality health care.
Our most vulnerable citizens deserve better, and 8.1 million Virginian’s deserve a budget that funds our core services.
For that reason, I urge you, on behalf of so many of your friends, neighbors and fellow Virginian’s, to decouple Medicaid from the budget, so that we can move Virginia forward, and continue debating the issues that matter to us all.