Advocates: Medicaid expansion would most benefit working poor


A liberal consumer advocacy group says the majority of people who would benefit from expanded Medicaid in Virginia are working citizens who earn too little to qualify for tax subsidies.

Virginia is embroiled in a tough political battle between Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and state house Republicans. McAuliffe has vowed to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and has injected a provision to do so in the state's budget, which threatens to shut down Virginia’s government at the end of the month.

A report from Families USA says 360,000 Virginians would gain coverage if Medicaid is expanded under ObamaCare. About 212,000 of those to benefit, or 60 percent, are working Virginians who make too much for Medicaid but earn too little to qualify for tax subsidies.
“These workers are in industries that are critical to the state’s economy,” says the report. “They are home health aides, child care workers, cashiers, clerks and janitors. They work in industries that range from transportation and construction to the medical and retail sectors.”

Recent reports have indicated McAuliffe is looking for a legal loophole to sidestep the legislature to get Medicaid expansion passed, to the chagrin of state Republicans.

“While the Speaker of the House, Bill Howell (R), has opposed expansion, he has repeatedly touted his support for protecting jobs,” says the report. “Perhaps no action represents a smarter long-term investment in Virginia’s economy than ensuring that its workers are prospering and healthy.”

Virginians who are not considered part of the workforce but would benefit from Medicaid expansion include people with disabilities, students, non-working spouses and the unemployed.