Chris Runion, candidate for the House of Delegates in Virginia’s 25th District, says he wants to end Medicaid expansion in Virginia, saying it’s “robbing our monies for education.” Mr. Runion seems to be confusing regular Medicaid with the new expansion — a needless error with serious costs.

Virginia has two kinds of Medicaid. The first insures low-income, elderly, disabled and special-needs Virginians. As of 2017, Virginia split its costs roughly 50-50 with the federal government.  It does represent a growing portion of our budget — but not because of expansion. The rising costs come from elderly and disabled Medicaid recipients, who represent 25% of enrollees but 68% of expenses.

Under the Affordable Care Act, Virginia has now also expanded Medicaid to Virginians making up to $17,236 a year for individuals, or $28,676 for a family of three. The federal government pays around 90% of expansion’s costs, and a group of Virginia hospitals cover the remainder every year, in hopes that expansion will help them recoup some of the charity costs they incur when treating uninsured people.

Expansion doesn’t add a penny to any citizen’s Virginia state taxes. In fact, it covers costs that Virginia would otherwise pay out of its own budget, which has allowed Virginia to add more than $600 million to its education budget.

Early this year, Virginia issued a report on expansion enrollment by House of Delegates district. Page 25 shows that 1,460 people in the 25th District had gained health care under expansion as of January. When you add up the provided percentages for people within that group, more than 45% of them were parents or caretakers of another family member. Many lived below the poverty line. Ending expansion would rob them of health care to achieve nothing. Virginia’s budget would lose money, not gain it, and we’d all pay the price.

I learned all this from Google searches and several simple phone calls and emails to relevant agencies. Why didn’t Chris Runion? We deserve a candidate who's willing to do his homework before he makes decisions that could pointlessly hurt hundreds of his potential constituents.

Nathan Alderman

Albemarle County

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