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Governor talks Medicaid in Halifax stop

After spending two weeks traveling across the state making 15 stops listening to concerns about Virginia’s uninsured, Gov. Terry McAuliffe made his last stop at Halifax Regional Hospital on Tuesday afternoon meeting with town and county officials and Halifax Regional Hospital personnel and staff.

Prior to his stop in Halifax County, McAuliffe spent his day visiting PATHS in Martinsville and Danville Regional Medical Center where he met with Danville and Martinsville hospital personnel.

The governor listened to numerous concerns about Medicaid and the push for it from Halifax Regional Hospital CEO Chris Lumsden, South Boston Mayor Ed Owens, Halifax County Industrial Development Authority Chairman John Cannon, Halifax County Chamber of Commerce President Nancy Pool and William Coleman of the Halifax Regional Hospital Board of Directors.  

Lumsden explained how Halifax Regional Hospital had been impacted by providing service to uninsured patients.

A total of 60 percent of Halifax Regional patients have Medicare and 75 percent of nursing facility residents currently has Medicaid. 

With the remaining percentile being uninsured, Lumsden and physicians in attendance agreed they have seen the number of emergency room visitors increase over the past few years. 

According to Lumsden, patients who are uninsured typically wait until their health worsens before seeing a physician and then they choose the Emergency Room which is costly. 

Halifax Regional then faces financial troubles because often times they are forced to absorb these exorbitant emergency room costs. 

The Democratic governor called the problem “a big issue” facing the entire state.

“Obviously we have a big issue. I’m very passionate about closing the coverage gap for many reasons. I am a man of deep personal faith, and the idea that we have 400,000 Virginians who could get access to quality care means we should be doing the right thing,” McAuliffe said. 

“I am passionate about this. Economically, I think we all realize we are going to spend $26 billion out of pocket to ship to Washington D.C …. why do we not bring this money back to our economy? Forty-seven states have agreed to accept it including some of the most conservative governors in America… This is a huge economic driver, we can provide heath care for 400,000 Virginians, create 30,000 new jobs.”

According to McAuliffe, Medicaid Expansion could save the Virginia economy $1.1 billion. 

“The money it could save us that we could put toward our priority is so important, and I worry about the economic impact,” the governor continued. 

He told those attending he is “trying to work in a bi-partisan way to bring everyone together” on this issue. 

“I’m in agreement with the Senate. The bill I support is sponsored by a Republican senator, but I cannot at this point understand why the House Republicans won’t even sit and negotiate with us on it. I can’t sit by and allow $26 billion of our money to be used in our economic competitors,” McAuliffe concluded.