Survey Says: No Medicaid Expansion For Virginia
Dels. Landes, Wilt Reveal Poll Results
HARRISONBURG — Two local delegates have heard from constituents about Medicaid and the message is clear: Now is not the time to expand the health care program.
Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, released the results of a 12-question legislative survey last week, while Del. Tony Wilt, R-Broadway, is announcing his answers four at a time in a series of periodic updates from Richmond.
Landes represents Augusta County and a portion of southern Rockingham County, including Bridgewater, in the House’s 25th District. Wilt represents Harrisonburg and northwest Rockingham County, including Broadway and Timberville, in the 26th District.
Landes sent his surveys to the thousands of registered voters in his district and made it available online, while Wilt obtained responses through e-mail and the Internet.
The surveys cover some of the biggest topics facing state lawmakers. None of those, at least in terms of debate going on in the General Assembly, rank higher than whether Virginia should take the federal government up on its offer to pay for an expansion of Medicaid for uninsured residents.
About 750 people responded to Landes’ survey. On the issue of expanding health care under the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, 63 percent said they were against it.
That’s not a surprising outcome in the conservative district, and even less revealing given how Landes, a vocal opponent of expansion, attached an argument against it with the question.
“While expansion could provide coverage for 400,000 currently uninsured Virginians,” the survey says, “it could cost the Commonwealth of Virginia over $1 billion per year, forcing cuts to other key services like education, mental health and public safety.”
Landes said he’s heard from some constituents who expressed concern about the wording of the question, but he felt it was important to spread information on the cost.
“It’s a concern I’ve been expressing,” he said of the argument against expansion. “It’s still up to them whether they go with it or not.”
In Wilt’s survey, which adds that taxes could be raised because of expansion, 80 percent don’t want the state to take up the Obama administration on its Medicaid offer.
About 250 people responded to Wilt’s survey, his legislative assistant said.
A small group of delegates and senators, including Landes, is now negotiating a budget deal that will include an answer on Medicaid expansion. The GOP-led House opposes it because it could end up costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars down the road, while the Democrat-controlled Senate notes that federal funds will cover the first three years of expansion and many Virginians would benefit.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe also recently released new numbers from the Department of Medical Assistance Services that show instead of costing the state money, expansion would save the commonwealth $1 billion through 2022.
Among other survey results for Landes, 90 percent of respondents support reducing the number of Standards of Learning tests and amending tests to encourage critical thinking instead of “rote memorization.” The survey notes that some parents, teachers, educators and elected officials believe the SOLs promote memorization over problem solving.
The overall top governmental priority for respondents was “fostering jobs and economic development.” That stands out to Landes.
“It’s still interesting to me,” he said. “Sometimes when we get [to Richmond], we get wrapped up in other issues.”
Wilt’s survey shows respondents care most about cutting “wasteful” government spending and “fighting” federal mandates, such as Obamacare.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or email@example.com