A Plea from Speaker Howell’s Hometown of Stafford County: Expand Health Care Access for All Virginians #CLOSETHEGAP

A Plea from Speaker Howell’s Hometown of Stafford County: Expand Health Care Access  for All Virginians #CLOSETHEGAP

For Immediate Release
March 23, 2014
Contact: Marc Broklawski

A Plea from Speaker Howell’s Hometown of Stafford County: Expand Health Care Access  for All Virginians #CLOSETHEGAP

Stafford, VA — As the Virginia General Assembly convenes a special session on Monday, March 24 to expand access to health care for all Virginians, House Speaker William J. Howell is intent on blocking the doors to health care for hundreds of thousands of Virginians at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This isn’t a right or left issue – this is a life or death issue. Hundreds of thousands of Virginians need health care and some people will die because of a lack of care until this coverage gap is closed,“ said Marc Broklawski, Chair of Virginia’s First Congressional District Democratic Committee.

The Virginia Senate had worked out a bipartisan agreement to create a private insurance program called “Marketplace Virginia” that would cover 69% of the currently uninsured Virginians, reducing the number of people who would still fall within the health care coverage gap. Speaker Howell dug in his heels and held a press conference to oppose even that  compromise supported by many Republican colleagues.

Speaker Howell’s hardline opposition to health care access is difficult to understand, but it is real. Howell’s stubborn refusal to compromise means he intends to stop health care access by any means necessary – including shutting down the state government. This cruel tactic of refusing to pass a budget that closes the health care gap defies all logic as it abandons 400,000 Virginians, including 45,370 in the First Congressional District; 4,710 in Speaker Howell’s 28th House District; and 3,100 in his hometown of Stafford County, VA.

While other legislators have been leading town hall meetings about helping people get health care, Speaker Howell has been using that time to visit different localities threatening to shut down the state government unless they pass resolutions to oppose closing the health insurance gap.

“As a gesture to Moral Monday, please sign the petition to send a message to Speaker Howell and his hometown Board of Supervisors here in Stafford County that we will not rest until the health care gap is closed,” said Rev. Steve Aycock, Senior Vice Chair of the Stafford Democratic Committee.

Without Medicaid Expansion Virginians will send $26 billion to Washington, D.C. over the next 8 years, through federal taxes, fees and reduced provider payments to pay for the uninsured in other states.

“The time is now for Speaker Howell to drop the political games and work with Governor McAuliffe to provide more Virginians with access to affordable health care, reclaim our rightful share of federal health care funds paid by Virginians, protect the health of our citizens, save jobs, boost the economy and help reduce the cost of health care for everyone,” said Marc Broklawski.

BACKGROUND

Petition Effort Underway to Tell Speaker Howell and His Stafford County BOS: Hands Off Healthcare. This includes calling on Speaker Howell’s hometown Supervisors to pass a resolution urging the General Assembly to increase access for uninsured and return Virginia taxpayer dollars to Virginia. (Source: Change.org)

Mary Washington Health Care (MWHC) could lose $14M and countless jobs due to Speaker Howell’s refusal to compromise. Fred Rankin, CEO and President of MWHC, notes that it it would cost MWHC $14M by refusing to close the coverage gap and they would be forced to reduce costs by 10 to 15 percent over time. This would lead to cuts in essential services, such as the clinic, and jobs. “Rankin said he has worked with Howell on health care issues for two decades and has never seen the speaker refuse to compromise like he is with Medicaid expansion.” (Source: FLS)

Speaker Howell Threatens to Shut Down the Government Over Medicaid Expansion. Speaker Howell recently presented a resolution to his hometown Stafford County Board of Supervisors and threatened to shut down the government unless Medicaid expansion was killed. All Stafford County Supervisors folded to the Speaker’s will (7-0) and voted to hold the state government hostage until Medicaid expansion was killed – and in the process deny healthcare to 3,100 Stafford County residents. “If there is no budget by July 1 the state stops,” Howell said. (Source: FLS)

Virginia Senate Offers Path to Accepting Medicaid Expansion Funds. Sen. Emmett Hanger (R – Mount Salon) said, “a Virginia Senate proposal would allow the state to create a marketplace private insurance program and accept the $2 billion in annual federal funds that would come from a Medicaid expansion in Virginia.” Sen. Hanger wants to reclaim funds from fees and taxes already paid by Virginia taxpayers. “We need to get that money back.” (Source: Daily Progress)

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