Virginia General Assembly Debates Budget Issues Over Medicaid Expansion

CHURCHVILLE, Va. -- The Virginia Senate and House of Delegates recently rolled out their budget proposals, with Medicaid expansion one topic under discussion.

Medicaid expansion affects a wide range of people across the valley. Nita Whitting of Churchville lives on about $600 per month of early Social Security and early retirement, which she said does not get her far. On top of that, she said she suffers from a wide range of disabilities and has trouble finding work.

"They don't seem to want to hire a 60 year old or a 59 year old," Whitting said.

Whitting is most concerned about her health, as she cannot afford health care and was denied Medicaid.

"I applied for it in combination with disability, and I was denied disability, which means I was automatically denied Medicaid," she said.

The only way she would be able to get health care is through the Medicaid expansion.

The Senate came up with an alternative option that would use federal money to create a private marketplace. The Republican-controlled House thinks that Medicaid expansion is not for Virginia and is suspicious of how the money would be truly used.

"They're wanting people to have skin in the game, that they'll have to pay some to get this insurance," said Augusta County Supervisor Tracy Pyles.

Pyles said the alternative proposed by the Senate does not help the situation.

"This takes away from Medicaid," he said. "This puts it into private insurance with subsidies that are coming from the federal government."

As the issue continues to be debated in the House of Delegates, Whitting and others can only watch and hope for the best.

"People are probably going die without it," she said. "They can't afford health care."


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