RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia physicians and health professionals today said health care is on the line in Tuesday’s election for governor, praising candidate Terry McAuliffe’s proposals to make health care more affordable and available while raising concerns that his rival, Glenn Youngkin, could roll back recent gains.
“As physicians, we see firsthand how affordable, available health care can improve the lives of our patients, and as Virginians, we believe the election on Tuesday will have long-term effects on health care for our fellow citizens,” said Dr. Rommaan Ahmad, a pain management physiatrist in Alexandria and Virginia State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care. “As physicians who have followed the issues and the positions of the two candidates for governor, we have no doubt that Terry McAuliffe is the better choice for Virginia. More than a half-million Virginians today can get care for illness and injuries before they get worse, thanks to Virginia’s decision to expand health care in 2018. Virginians from diverse backgrounds will further benefit from McAuliffe’s proposal to help bring down prescription drug costs. During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. McAuliffe’s strong support for vaccine and mask requirements will protect people from COVID-19. While Glenn Youngkin gives us vague talking points about health care and rejects the science that can keep COVID-19 in check, Mr. McAuliffe offers a vision that can help improve and save countless lives in Virginia.”
Gov. Ralph Northam expanded Medicaid in Virginia in 2018, which provided health care to 550,000 working low-income Virginians who didn’t qualify for traditional Medicaid because their incomes were too high, but who still couldn’t afford private insurance on the marketplace or whose employers don’t provide coverage.
At the same time, health care expansion saved money for Virginia, which spent $558 million less than expected in Medicaid costs in 2020. This year, Virginia is expected to save millions of dollars more.
“I’ve seen a lot of change since Medicaid was expanded two years ago — in my practice, I’ve seen working patients be able to get insurance through Medicaid expansion and be able to take care of themselves,” said Dr. Gregory Gelburd, a family physician in Charlottesville. “Our medical system is moving ahead and making great gains. But if we choose Mr. Youngkin, those people could lose their Medicaid insurance and not be able to afford their good health care. There is also the possibility of having paid sick leave or paid family leave under Terry McAuliffe, as well as expanding mental health services. That’s why Terry McAuliffe has my full support.”
Virginia’s expanded Medicaid program covers adults ages 19 to 64 with income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty limit. That means a Virginia family of four making $36,570 or less per year qualifies for subsidized health care. McAuliffe supports Medicaid expansion and said he wants to grow the program further to include Virginians above the maximum qualifying income who may still struggle to pay for health care.
McAuliffe supports transparency programs to help reduce prescription drug costs, which one in four Virginians say they can’t afford and don’t take as prescribed. He also supports family leave and paid sick days, investments in mental health services, a $15-per-hour wage for home care workers, and mandatory vaccinations and masks for schools and other entities.
In contrast, Youngkin opposes vaccine and mask requirements. He has not offered any plans to reduce the high cost of medications beyond saying he’ll review the issue. He has also called health care expansion that now protects 550,000 Virginians “a very sad thing” during the Republican primary campaign in April.
About the Committee to Protect Health Care
The Committee to Protect Health Care, formerly known as the Committee to Protect Medicare, is a national mobilization of doctors, health care professionals, and advocates who are building a pro-patient health care majority in Congress and in states so that we can live in an America where everyone has the health care they need to thrive. To learn more: www.committeetoprotect.org