Lt. Gov. Northam: The fierce urgency of now

Thanks to Ashley Bauman <> for this note from Lt Gov Northam.

By Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam

© February 25, 2014

Over the past few months, a lot has been said about the need to provide health care to the commonwealth’s most hard-working and vulnerable citizens.

As both a practicing physician and a policymaker, my support for Medicaid expansion is no secret. It is a simple fact that one’s quality of life significantly improves with access to affordable health care.

Imagine your child had a fever of 105 and was not able to be seen by a provider, or that you had to decide between paying rent and refilling a life-saving prescription. Hundreds of thousands of working Virginians make these choices on a daily basis.

I emphasize the word “working” because 70 percent of Virginians without insurance have at least one working member in their household. Closing the coverage gap is not a handout. It is intended for hard-working Virginians who don’t otherwise have access to health insurance.

As a physician, I am troubled by the fact that your economic status so greatly determines your ability to access and the quality of your health care. As a parent, I am heartbroken knowing that mothers and fathers throughout the state are making choices between putting food on the table for their kids and paying for their basic health care each month.

The children I see at my practice are fortunate, but there are too many others in similar situations who don’t have access to insurance through employers, cannot afford care out of pocket and don’t have access to charity care.

As a business owner, I cannot fathom giving $5 million, per day, to competing businesses. But in this case, that’s exactly what we are doing if we don’t expand Medicaid. We are sending Virginia’s tax dollars to our neighboring states so they can improve the health, well-being and productivity of their own students and workers.

Instead, we should be doing all we can to reinvest those tax dollars in our own communities. To be clear, these are tax dollars that the people of Virginia will continue to pay whether or not Virginia ever draws down our share from the federal government.

Meanwhile, our hospitals are struggling to close their financial gaps, when we could be creating tens of thousands of new jobs in the health care field. These are quality jobs that would help boost local economies and ultimately generate more revenue for the state.

Finally, as a veteran of the U.S. Army, I am incredibly frustrated that many of my fellow veterans fall into the coverage gap and don’t have access to affordable health care, despite their service to our great nation.

Contrary to popular belief, in Virginia there are more than 30,000 veterans who don’t have health insurance. These men and women risked their lives in Afghanistan and Iraq for our freedom, and now work in the private sector earning minimum wage, live under the poverty line and are not able to afford health care coverage for themselves or their families.

The least we can do for these brave individuals, many with serious medical conditions, is ensure that they and their families have access to affordable and quality health care.

If you refer to yourself as a patriot, profess to have good business sense, describe yourself as a well-intended person having compassion for your fellow man, or all of the above, I strongly encourage you to discuss favorably with your delegate and senator the benefits of expanding health care to the nearly 400,000 working Virginians currently in the coverage gap.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “of all the forms of injustice, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” In his speech at the March on Washington, he called on America to recognize “the fierce urgency of now.”

Now is the time for Virginia to put politics and partisanship aside and to responsibly provide coverage to those in need as soon as possible. The health of our neighbors, children, and veterans depends on it.

Ralph Northam is lieutenant governor of Virginia. He lives in Norfolk.

Ralph Northam on This Week in Richmond

Important comments on the job of Lt. Governor – Medicaid Expansion, transportation, education and all of the important issues before Virginia in the coming years:

How Terry McAuliffe is putting jobs first

The McAuliffe plan to grow Virginia’s economy and create jobs has four primary components:

  • investing in Virginia’s transportation systems
  • reforming PreK-12 education and supporting workforce development programs through our community colleges
  • diversifying Virginia’s economy
  • strengthening Virginia’s healthcare system through Medicaid expansion

Read more through the link, and support Terry McAuliffe for Governor on November 5th, 2013.

Medicaid expansion moves forward for most states

A key provision of Obamacare is Medicaid expansion, expanding the range of persons eligible for Medicaid to low income individuals and families. States have the option to participate or not participate. The entire cost of this expansion is paid by the federal government for the first four years, essentially pumping money into the state’s economy to raise the standard of living for those who need it most by providing health care.

The money will not go to the poor or low income individuals. It will go to doctors, hospitals, and providers of health care both direct and indirect. Jobs will be created in medical and related fields. The low-income people will get to go to the doctor when they are ill. Even so, some states are opting out. On the map below the poverty belt across the southeast, from North Carolina to Texas is clearly visible. Virginia is leaning toward joining this group, and Tennessee is still undecided.

Texas, with 26.3 % uninsured, Georgia and Oklahoma, each with with 21.9 % uninsured, Mississippi with 21% uninsured are opting out. These are four of the ten states with the highest percentage of uninsured people. Five of the ten are opting in: Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, and California. The tenth of this group of states, Alaska, is still undecided.

This map shows where each state stands, and is interactive so you can check on your state:

Where the States Stand

Via: The Advisory Board Company

Medicaid Expansion: Statement from Brian Moran

Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran released the following statement on July 12, 2012, urging Governor Bob McDonnell to put politics aside and opt Virginia in to the Medicaid expansion program set forth by the Affordable Care Act:

“Right now thousands of Virginians are waiting to find out if their Governor will take advantage of available federal funding to ensure that they get access to health insurance they would otherwise lack, or if he will allow partisan politics to override their best interests.

“It is past time for Governor McDonnell and Republicans all over the country to accept that the Affordable Care Act is the law of our land, that it is already making it possible for millions of families to acquire health insurance and that repealing it or stonewalling its implementation will rob millions of their access to health insurance that should be a right in our nation, not a privilege for the few.

“Should he decide to stand in the way of this critical expansion, the Governor will send Virginians a clear message about his level of respect for the tax dollars they send to Washington. By refusing to claim Virginia’s fair share of federal assistance, the Governor could jeopardize many families’ access to affordable care.

“This is a historic moment for the Governor and our Commonwealth. We can either prove once again that we are above the reckless partisan obstructionism that is damaging other states on issues like these, or we can continue to allow radical elements of the Republican party define our public policy in ways that denigrate our reputation and leave Virginians waiting for leadership that puts their best interests first.

“On behalf of the Democratic Party of Virginia, I urge Governor McDonnell to take advantage of this opportunity to bring Virginia taxpayer dollars back to the Commonwealth and to ensure that thousands of families get access to affordable health care that is so essential to opportunity and economic success in our society. We simply cannot afford to let party politics override the common good on this critical issue.” ###

Brian Moran statement on arrests in Richmond

Brian Coy,
March 5, 2012

McDonnell Set the Stage for Capitol Arrests – Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran released the following statement today following a peaceful demonstration over the weekend at the Virginia Capitol that ended in numerous protesters being taken into custody by heavily armed Capitol Police Officers.

The protesters gathered on taxpayer-funded property to protest Bob McDonnell’s plan to sign legislation that would force an unnecessary ultrasound on Virginia women before she can undergo an abortion. Moran said:

Watching riot police with helmets and shields march through peaceful protesters on the steps of Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol is a particularly vivid reminder of how far this Commonwealth has fallen in just the few short weeks since Bob McDonnell and his party took total control over Virginia’s state government.

This should not be about the Capitol and State Police who responded to the protesters, it should be about the Republican politicians whose radical agenda created the environment for this unfortunate situation to arise.

Instead of solving the problems Virginians are facing, this Governor and his radical majorities have led us on an extreme rightward course. The severity of that agenda has left thousands of citizens with no recourse other than to march on the building they pay for and to which they send representatives to conduct their business.

While I cannot say whether or not the Governor authorized or had knowledge of this weekend’s regrettable arrests, there is no question that this unfortunate situation could have been avoided by a leader with the courage to resist the extreme elements of his own party and focus on making life better for Virginia families. We can only hope our next Governor will be such a leader.


Associated links:

How do they get those polls to say that?

Here is how they get a majority of people polled to say that HCR should be repealed and that cutting spending, cutting taxes, paying down the national debt, and improving the nation’s security should be the top priority in the new congressional session when most Americans believe otherwise:

First they put a negative-looking photo of President Obama on Facebook with the question “Should Congress Repeal Obama’s Health Plan?” This is a link, and most people who respond to it will either 1)be insensitive to the negativity of the “bad Obama” pictures or 2) recognize the picture and know that it is negative. If they feel negatively about President Obama, they are more likely to click on the negative photo, which is a link to the survey. If they feel positively about President Obama and recognize the “bad Obama” picture for what it is, they will not click on the link. So before anybody responds, the survey results are determined by setting up a survey population that will be more likely to agree with the writer of the poll. It will include a large majority of people with little political awareness, people who respond to negative pictures of President Obama, and people who want health care reform repealed.

When you do click on the link, you see another negative photo of President Obama, and you are asked “Should Congress Repeal Obama’s Health Care Plan and Other Policies?” The text will tell you the poll is urgent, and that the polling agency is reputable, and that they are going to give the results to media. The last of the three statements is true. Throughout the poll HCR will be referred to as “Obama’s Health Care Plan,” just to keep the self-selected anti-Obama folks aligned with the appropriate responses.

Then you get the questions, which are listed below. If you think there is one question that is not biased, leave your thoughts in the comments. I think that the last two are not biased questions, since they are actually just demographic. However, the responses will be skewed because the population has been selected to skew them. The kicker is the fourth question, which lists only the right-wing choices. So all of these will poll higher than creating jobs, funding and implementing HCR, Wall Street Reform, etc. When the poll is reported to media, there will not be a paragraph about how these options were not available, and the response could not be submitted unless you picked one of the available options.

That is one of the many ways they do it. You can use the link below to take the poll, but you can’t do it without giving them the answer they want on Question 4. And the responses can be separated into two groups based on the last two questions, people who voted for President Obama and people who did not. That gives the polling agency yet another option for reporting the data from the other questions in a skewed manner.

Here is the poll and here are the questions:

  1. Do you support the full repeal of President Obama’s healthcare plan Congress passed in 2010? (Question calls it “Obama’s healthcare plan,” and offers one Yes option with a graded “No” response. The responses for the first option and the last option will be aggregated as “yes” responses in support of those legislators seeking repeal.
    1. Yes, repeal it completely
    2. No, don’t repeal it at all
    3. No, repeal just parts of it
  2. Should Congress restore $500 billion in Medicare benefits for seniors that the Obama plan cut? (Question says that money was cut, but responses say benefits. Actually benefits increased, and the money was cut by greater efficiency and tightening up to prevent fraud.)
    1. Yes, restore the Medicare benefits
    2. No, don’t restore the Medicare benefits
  3. Do you support President Obama’s desire to give 12 million illegal aliens amnesty and a path to citizenship? (Question calls this “President Obama’s desire,” and the “Yes” response calls it a plan. It has been referred to in this item twice as “Obama’s,” so given the population, most responses will predictably be “No.”
    1. Yes, I support Obama’s amnesty plan
    2. No, I oppose it
  4. What do you believe Congress’ top priority should be in 2011? (What happened to jobs, funding HCR, Wall Street reform, fixing Citizens United, getting working Americans back on their feet, doing something about education, etc.)
    1. Cutting spending
    2. Cutting taxes
    3. Paying down the national debt
    4. Improving the nation’s security
  5. Do you plan on voting to re-elect President Obama in 2012?
    1. Yes, re-elect
    2. No, for another candidate
    3. Not sure right now
  6. Who did you vote for in 2008?
    1. McCain – Palin
    2. Obama – Biden
    3. Other