On Medicaid expansion and more
Published 9:38 am Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Northam is committed to fully implement Obamacare, but the rate of uninsured Virginians is less than one percentage point higher than the national average — and actually lower than several states that expanded Medicaid. Some states that opted to expand Medicaid are in a fiscal mess, caused by the program’s expansion.
Additionally, a recent report noted that the amount of drug fraud cases related to Medicaid was 55 percent higher in the four years after Medicaid expansion. Four out of five of the opioid cases pursued by investigators were in states that expanded Medicaid. As well, deaths from drug overdoses are increasing nearly twice as fast in expansion states as non-expansion states.
Hopefully, something of value can come out of this session that will not break the backs of taxpayers.
Should legislators use campaign funds for personal use? Absolutely not! A Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial suggested that such funds could be used to pay for students’ college tuition. This was so absurd that after planting that seed, they immediately wrote that they knew of no such misuse. They wrote the opinion piece based on action of a bill that was carried over to the 2019 session with plans to look into how to deal with issues as adjustments are made to the ethics law. In committee I supported that action. The story and debate implied that gasoline should not be considered as a campaign expense.
I support reform. I do not pay personal expenses from my campaign. My vote to further study the issue is because of the issue of gasoline expenses. If one represents a small compact district, I understand this is not a big issue. However, the 15th District is the largest in the state, stretching from across the river from Jamestown to 10 miles from Martinsville — a four-hour trip. When a citizen has a problem that cannot be dealt with by phone or email, I try to go to them. Likewise, if there is a meeting in any of the 10 localities I serve, I try to attend, if invited. I use my car, but I believe it is reasonable and fair to have the campaign pay for the fuel needed to attend those meetings. Before legislation becomes the law, it is reasonable to evaluate issues.
We had many come, call or email about the issues involving raw milk. Because milk, if not properly handled, can cause health issues, Virginia has established rules about pasteurizing and the handling of milk that is sold to the public. To get around this issue, those who wish to avoid those regulations now use something called herd-sharing. The system works like this: those who wish to use raw milk make a deal with someone in which they pay for a share of one or more milk cows. This entitles them to a share of the milk produced.
This session, bills were offered in both the House and Senate to require more paperwork sent to the Department of Agriculture. Those who wish to use raw milk were afraid that this was a step toward the government trying to shut down herd-sharing. The Senate patron agreed to water down the bill, but those who came to Richmond would hear nothing of it. The offer effectively made the legislation of little value. My vote was against the bill. After seeing the Senate committee result, the House patron chose to withdraw his legislation.
We would love to have you come visit us in Richmond. We are in Room 505 of the Pocahontas Building at 900 E. Main St. You can also reach us at (804) 698-7515 or P.O. Box 396, Richmond, VA 23218.
Frank Ruff represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen.Ruff@ verizon.net.