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The GA must extend Medicaid in Virginia

Date published: 2/3/2013

The GA must extend Medicaid in Virginia

Each year the Virginia General Assembly makes lots of tough choices. This year, amid decisions about transportation and education our elected officials have to make a decision on Medicaid extension under the Affordable Care Act.

As a person of faith and a pastor in our community, I am called to serve my congregation and beyond by caring for "the least of those." Thankfully, this is something that people of differing faith traditions have in common. Many churches, synagogues, mosques, and charities are hard at work ensuring that vulnerable families in our community are fed, clothed and sheltered.

But extending Medicaid to thousands of low-income, uninsured Virginians is a public policy that only our elected officials can employ to ensure "the least of those" get access to affordable and quality health care. This access is critical to low-income families who may not get insurance through their employers and simply cannot afford to pay for it out of pocket.

Medicaid provides public health insurance to these families and will drastically improve their health and well-being. That, in turn, benefits our whole community when preventive care permits parents to stay employed and provide for their families, while children also get the care they need.

If the commonwealth chooses not to extend Medicaid, Virginia's federal taxes will go to help fund other states' Medicaid programs. Our elected officials should do all they can to expand the Medicaid program in Virginia. In the long run it benefits the health and well-being of our whole community.

The Rev. James C. Dannals


Mr. Dannals is rector of St. George's Episcopal Church.