Medicaid Expansion Debate Continues

By: Carly Stephenson Email
By: Carly Stephenson Email
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) -- The Medicaid debate is far from over in Virginia as Republican legislative leaders have announced a special session to debate the issue. They say it's a change to give a fair debate to the topic.

One Valley woman says her time without coverage landed her in the hospital.

"I ended up at RMH for a couple of weeks with a double pneumonia and I'm still trying to pay off that bill that was in the thousands and thousands of dollars," said Jacqueline Miller, who works at the Harrisonburg Community Health Center.

For three years, she didn't have insurance with her jobs and she and her husband couldn't afford his insurance, "There are a lot of uninsured people in this country and it's just not realized and it's really sad."

As she looks at pictures of her kids, she's thankful they qualified for Medicaid.

Even with insurance benefits now, she hasn't forgotten how it felt, "Even when you're laying in the hospital bed fighting for whatever illness you're fighting off, you're thinking in the back of your mind, how am I going to pay for this, and you know, it's really difficult."

Now, Miller helps people who don't have insurance get medicine. At the center, more than 1,000 patients would qualify if Medicaid coverage was expanded.

Christopher Nye, the CEO of the Harrisonburg Community Health Center, is concerned about the legislative session.

"Looks like a party is meeting its commitment, but I'm not hopeful at all," said Nye, "It is a moral issue, it shouldn't be a political one."

Virginia Republican legislative leaders are against expanding coverage. Republicans say borrowing federal funds doesn't fix the gap in the long run; however, Nye worries about overall health.

"Do you want to be in a crowd of people who may have a contagious illness?" asked Nye "It's not like you're protected because you have insurance and they don't have insurance."

The General Assembly will discuss Medicaid during the week of September 22.


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