Beshear writes reply to a Virginia newspaper, pushing Medicaid expansion like he implemented in Kentucky

Gov. Steve Beshear, trying to help a fellow Democratic governor who is trying to expand Medicaid, has written a response to an editorial in which a Virginia largest state-capital newspaper opposed the move.

“Our success undercuts your whole opposition,” Beshear says in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Having proved from the beginning that health
care reform is both the right thing and the smart thing do, Kentucky has
become the poster child for why states should expand Medicaid.”

The editorial cited larger-than-expected Medicaid enrollments in Kentucky and other states, but Beshear says the piece “fails to grasp both the moral and economic arguments for expansion. . . . The core tenet of health care reform is helping families and saving
lives. Not vague political theory, but helping people. That’s what we’re
doing in Kentucky. It’s a Christian thing.”

The editorial quoted state Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Northern Kentucky, chair of the Senate budget committee, as saying the costs have created “a monstrous hole” in the state budget, though the federal government is paying the entire cost through 2016. Beshear cited a state-funded study that predicted the expansion will pay for itself by creating jobs and tax revenue for four years after the state starts paying part of the cost: 5 percent in 2017, rising to the law’s limit of 10 percent in 2020.

“And those numbers don’t even address the societal impact of improved
health on quality of life or economic capacity, or tangible things, such
as worker productivity, school attendance and public image,” Beshear writes. “So, to those who claim states can’t afford
expanded Medicaid, I say this: You’re entitled to your own opinion, but
you’re not entitled to your own facts. The facts in Kentucky demonstrate
that not only can states afford to expand Medicaid, but they also
really can’t afford not to do it. Especially if they care about their people.”

Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, whose powers to expand Medicaid are much more limited than Beshear’s has repeatedly tried to get an expansion through the Virginia legislature. At a recent National Governors Association meeting, McAuliffe told Beshear that he could use some help from him.

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