Speaker Bill Howell pushes back at WaPost editorial on Medicaid expansion

Bill HowellBy Lynn R. Mitchell

On Sunday the Washington Post editorial board took aim at Virginia Republicans generally, and specifically at Speaker Bill Howell (see ‘Massive resistance,’ again, in Virginia). Speaker Howell responded to the broad-brushed accusations in a statement:

“This editorial is patently offensive to not only me, but also to the many honorable men and women serving in the House of Delegates and the millions of hard-working taxpayers who share our deep public policy concerns about Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. To compare the legitimate and widely-acknowledged policy concerns we have with Medicaid expansion to the shameful and ignorant policy of massive resistance is not only outrageous, it is, frankly, indefensible.

“I have articulated quite clearly that my opposition to Medicaid expansion is based on serious worries over its fiscal implications and the effectiveness of the program. Poll after poll has shown that Virginians are opposed to expanding Medicaid for many of the reasons I have articulated, or at the very least are evenly divided. This is a complicated issue that should not be reduced to the repugnant and appalling rhetoric advanced by the Washington Post.

“I would also add that I have continually called for reforms to improve the system in order to help the very people that the Washington Post suggests the House of Delegates is neglecting. More recently, the House offered a $125 million plan to invest in mental health services, free clinics and community health centers and other healthcare safety net services that will help the neediest of our citizens. The Washington Post may not agree that this is the best approach, but to suggest that my stance, or the stance of the House of Delegates, “begins and ends with no” is, once again, outrageous and false.

“There are multiple legitimate arguments to be made over Medicaid expansion. The Washington Post favors an approach that would increase the size and scope of government. The House of Delegates is taking a different path, which provides care to the neediest citizens without creating a new entitlement program. These are valid differences of opinion. However, the offensive and false claims like those advanced today undercut the Washington Post’s arguments for Medicaid expansion and damage its reputation in the process.”

The Washington Post may not agree with the Virginia Republican stand on Medicaid but comparing it to massive resistance lowers the Post’s credibility.

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