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What does our future hold

Monday we honored those who had died in service to our nation. If one looks at the memorials around our communities, one will see family names that are still part of these communities. One must wonder how much greater we would be if these men and women had lived to return to their homes and help build the assets that we have with their willingness to work and sacrifice. Certainly, those who did return from World War II and Korea added much in the fifties.

With that thought, by the time you read this, I will have returned to Richmond to deal with the budget. Barring any unexpected changes, we will take one more step down the road in the direction that our forefathers fought against. No matter the name we call it, socialism, communism or simply government control, the actions that will be taken here in Virginia will step on the toes of liberty, freedom and self-determination.

Some will say that we should show empathy for our fellow man. That is a reasonable sounding argument, however, it is based on the belief that there is such a thing as a free lunch. Their thought process is flawed because many do not understand our communities. Most of rural Virginia lacks the providers that are needed. When the government of Virginia decrees that a half million have a right to have free health care, our current providers will be overwhelmed. Some, if not most, will decline to see new patients. Others will have to set appointments way into the future. Therefore, many will continue to do what they have been doing in the past – go to hospital emergency rooms. This is the most expensive method to deal with medical issues.

The money that is being set aside to cover these services will have been spent to provide raises for teachers and state employees as well as a number of other projects that some would consider needed. The reality is that the budget that I intend to oppose does not set aside enough to insure medical coverage that will be expected by that unknown number of Virginians. A number that will grow every year as more and more people figure out how to beat the system.

One simply can look at other states that allowed this expanded coverage in the past to see what we may face in just a few years. We do not have the resources to provide every individual every service that can be dreamed up. Government has to make decisions that best serve the people as a whole. Compassion and charity are not the role of government but rather that of individuals.

Sadly, proponents of this expansion in the legislature have talked about work requirements, which the Governor has referred to as work suggestions. Any such work requirement exemptions would come after the budget is passed and signed by the Governor. Should the federal government disapprove a work requirement, Virginia would end up with the most liberal Medicaid expansion in the country with no clear way out.

Finally, with the expectation that the federal debt cannot continue to rise, there is a real probability that the amount the federal government pays to fund this program will drop, leaving Virginia on the hook with more than expected costs and greater numbers of those seeking coverage – a perfect storm.

Frank Ruff represents Charlotte in the state Senate. His email address is Sen. Ruff@verizon.net.