Del. Scott Lingamfelter Said It’s a “Bad Idea” to Close the Coverage Gap for 400,000 Virginians

This is part of a series of posts on Delegate Scott Lingamfelter, who is up for re-election in District 31. Read the other posts in this series:

When the free medical clinic makes its annual visit to Wise, thousands of low-income Virginians wait in line for hours at a fairground for their one chance out of the year to see a doctor.

Individuals and families alike depend on this clinic for healthcare because anti-family politicians in Richmond like Delegate Scott Lingamfelter have blocked efforts to help them by refusing to support proposals to expand healthcare coverage to 400,000 low-income Virginians. “Taking an I.O.U. approach in more entitlement programs is a bad idea,” Lingamfelter said, defending his vote against Medicaid expansion in 2017.

Hardworking Virginians Cut Off From Healthcare

The Virginians who would benefit from Medicaid expansion are hardworking people in low-paying jobs who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but don’t make enough money to buy private health insurance. That means no health insurance for them.

Medicaid provides health coverage to low-income people. Every state has different requirements for eligibility. Virginia has some of the most stringent requirements, only six other states make it harder for working families to access Medicaid.

Four hundred thousand Virginians don’t have access to healthcare due to the Commonwealth’s failure to go along with 32 other states (and D.C.) that expanded Medicaid. When the Obama administration delivered on its promise to reform the country’s healthcare system by passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it offered billions of dollars in funding to states to expand their Medicaid programs by broadening eligibility requirements, allowing more low-income people to qualify for Medicaid assistance.

The federal government paid for 100 percent of the cost of Medicaid expansion through 2016. After that, the feds’ share of covering the cost would gradually be reduced to 90 percent.

Why Won’t Virginia Take Free Money?

Why did Virginia’s General Assembly turn down the FREE $$$? Because politicians like Lingamfelter said the state couldn’t afford it. WHAT?! Virginia couldn’t afford to turn down free money?!

A Flawed Argument Straight From the Horse’s Mouth

Remember Lingamfelter’s quote, “Taking an I.O.U. approach in more entitlement [Medicaid expansion] programs is a bad idea”? I wonder if the eleven hundred people in Lingamfelter’s district who lack health coverage think health insurance is such a bad idea. As they sit there and agonize over going to a doctor versus paying rent or buying food, I wonder what they think of Lingamfelter’s flawed reasoning for denying them health insurance, too.

Lingamfelter’s argument is that full federal funding of Medicaid isn’t guaranteed in the future, so the state couldn’t afford the cost of having more people enrolled in the program if the federal government defaulted on its promise to pay for it.

Let’s take a look at the one-sided hypocrisy of Lingamfelter’s argument here: Virginia also receives tens of billions of dollars in federal funding each year for transportation, education, and other projects. Losing funding for those projects would hurt the state’s budget as well, but we don’t see lawmakers calling on the state to reject those funds, do we?

We rejected expansion in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and again in 2017 because it was the wrong policy for the commonwealth,” the GOP House of Delegates leadership said in a statement regarding its refusal to pass Medicaid expansion.

Virginia Lost $10 Billion in Free Federal Money—$6.6 Million A Day

Thanks to the refusal of politicians like Lingamfelter to see reason, Virginia has missed out on $10 billion in federal funding because of its failure to expand Medicaid.  That’s about $6.6 million a day.

Furthermore, not only does Medicaid expansion help low-income Virginians—it also creates jobs! A study by the Virginia Healthcare and Hospital Association showed that job growth in the state has been hurt by its failure to expand Medicaid. The states that expanded Medicaid have added healthcare and social service jobs at a rate that’s 75.6 percent faster than that of Virginia. I guess that’s not important to Delegate Lingamfelter either.

Virginia Pays for Other States’ Medicaid Expansion Programs Without Receiving Any of the Benefits

Here’s another reason to get angry over Lingamfelter’s refusal to close the coverage gap for Viginians: As taxpayers, we are paying for Medicaid expansion in other states, but we’re not receiving any of the benefits. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

Remember the 400,000 Uninsured Virginians When You Vote on November 7

When you go to the polls this November 7, think about your neighbors and thousands of other of Virginians whose health is at risk because politicians like Lingamfelter think it’s a bad idea to provide 400,000 of us with healthcare.