Newsflash:
Campaigns VA Medicaid Expansion State Sen. Tom Garrett says Medicaid expansion money "goes away" in a few years
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 00:00

State Sen. Tom Garrett says Medicaid expansion money "goes away" in a few years

Written by 

State Sen. Thomas A. Garrett Jr. says Uncle Sam is doling disappearing dollars to entice states to expand their Medicaid programs.

"This money is guaranteed for a few years, and then goes away," Garrett, R-Louisa, wrote in an op-ed that ran earlier this month in The Free-Lance Star and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

We looked behind the curtains to see if the money really does vanish. Garrett’s claim comes as the General Assembly is locked in a largely partisan debate over expanding Medicaid eligibility to 400,000 additional low-income and disabled Virginians. The stalemate is blocking passage of a two-year state budget.

The Democratic-controlled state Senate and Gov. Terry McAuliffe support expansion, saying it will help the needy and most of the cost will be borne by the federal government under provisions of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Garrett opposes broadening eligibility, echoing arguments from the Republican-led House that Medicaid already is fraught with waste and that Washington can not be trusted to keep its funding commitment.

The expansion would make Medicaid available to people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or  about $16,104 in a one-person household and $21,707  in a two-person household. So far, 26 states and the District of Columbia have decided to participate.

Virginia's average cutoff for adult eligibility is 32.7 percent of the federal poverty line, according to the state's Medicaid agency. That breaks down to annual earnings of about $3,846 for a one-person household and $5,144 for a two-person household.

Virginia evenly split its Medicaid costs with the federal government.

Obamacare calls for the federal government to pay the entire cost of expansion through 2016. The U.S. match drops to 95 percent  in 2017, 94  percent in 2018, 93 percent in 2019 and 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.

Why does Garrett say "the money is guaranteed for only a few years and then goes away?"

His legislative assistant, Paul Allen, said Garrett was referring to the drop in federal funding for expanded enrollment from 100 percent now to 90 percent in 2020.  

"While Tom said `it’s guaranteed for a few years, then goes away,’ he means guaranteed full funding with federal dollars," Allen emailed us. "The burden then falls back on Virginia to make up those federal cuts."

Garrett did not make that distinction in two references to federal funding he made in his op-ed. In addition to the one we’ve discussed, Garrett wrote that  "once the federal money is gone, two things happen: 1) Virginians will have to make up the shortfall and 2) those arguing for expansion will try increasing taxes, doubling down on a broken program."

We should note that if Virginia opts for expansion by July 1, it would receive $2.9 billion in additional federal Medicaid money over the next two fiscal years, according to the state's Medicaid agency.

Our ruling

Garrett wrote that the federal money that’s being offered for Medicaid expansion "is guaranteed for a few years, then goes away."

His aide says that Garrett simply means the 100 percent federal match is only guaranteed for a few years. And sure, some money will go away as the U.S. match shrinks to 90 percent in 2020 and beyond under the Affordable Care Act.

But Garrett does not make that distinction in his sweeping statement, which he repeats a second time in his column. He creates a misleading impression that Obamacare cuts off all money for Medicaid expansion after states opt to increase their enrollments.

We rate his statement Mostly False.

Read 2686 times
Andrea Miller

Andrea Miller was the Democratic Nominee in 2008 for House of Representatives in the Virginia 4th District. Prior to running for office, Andrea was a part of Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign, first as Statewide Coordinator for Virginia and subsequently as Regional Coordinator. From 2006 until leading the VA Kucinich campaign Andrea was MoveOn.org’s Regional Coordinator for Central, Southwest and Hampton Roads areas of Virginia and West Virginia. Andrea is also the PDA Virginia co-chair as well as the Technical Director. Andrea co-hosts, organizes and programs PDA's Blog Talk Radio show. She is also the lead designer and production team leader for PDA's websites and printed materials. Andrea co-directs PDA's Capitol Hill letter drops and Hill meetings.

Join our Twitter Storm

If you have a Twitter account you can help stop Fast Track on the TPP. Sign-in to your Twitter account and copy and paste the Tweets from our Twitter storm. Or you can copy your favorite Tweet and then click on the map and Tweet your legislator.

Twitter Storm Tweets for Tuesday, January 28th @ 9pm Eastern

Tweets for the special State of the Union Twitter Storm will be posted on January 28th at 8pm EST. Check back for the new Tweets.

Find Your Member of Congress

Click here to quickly find your member of Congress by putting in your home address. This site also features a one-click link to the same information in Spanish

ButtonFindElectedOfficials

Then call and ask them to oppose Fast Track on the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Sample script is below.

Script

“I'm a constituent, and I am strongly opposed to my representative giving away Congress’ constitutional authority to control our trade policy. We send people to Congress to stand up for us, not give away their power to stop more American job offshoring and protect us from dangerous imported food that doesn’t meet our safety standards. This latest so-called trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), would not only do that - but also ban Buy American and increase our medicine prices. That’s why it’s crucial that Congress not give away its authority to make sure every provision of TPP is in our interest before this massive deal can be signed. Good trade deals don’t need to be railroaded through Congress using Fast Track. I hope my representative will commit to opposing this outrageous legislation.”

Email Your Senators and Rep - Say No On Fast Track and TPP

Send an email directly to your Senators and Representatives courtesy of our partners at CWA. Enter your zip code and your members are automatically selected.

Button-EmailYourRep2

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of

Flush the TPP

Congress only has one more week in session this year, the week of December 9. So far our pressure to stop the TPP has been working. Visit Flush the TPP for calling scripts and links to Members of the Ways and Means Committee.

Flush the TPP