VA week in review: Problems with Medicaid expansion come to light

By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

MEDICAID: The problems with expanding medicaid dominated headlines this week in Virginia.

The consequences of expanding Medicaid dominated the headlines this week in Virginia. A report shows the most needy could have decreased access to quality care, and a lawmaker from Arkansas tries to warn the General Assembly about “buyer’s remorse.”

Meanwhile, a controversial counterterrorism conference and Barbara Comstock’s congressional bid are taking heat.

This is your week in review.

VA report on current Medicaid access raises concerns for future care

An alarming report suggests expanding Medicaid inVirginia could actually reduce access to care for the most needy.

The report by the Virginia General Assembly’s auditing arm shows varied access to care for the most needy already on Medicaid. With Medicaid paying roughly two-thirds of what private insurance pays — and about one in four doctors taking no new Medicaid patients in Virginia — the conditions could get worse.

Arkansas to Virginia: More Medicaid brings ‘buyer’s remorse’

Citing more than $200 million in “waste, fraud and abuse” in Virginia‘s Medicaid program, Republican leaders say expanding the program now would be throwing good money after bad.

Still, state Democrats and a handful of Republicans in the state Senate are pushing hard and fast to extend the indigent-care program to 400,000 additional lower-income Virginians this year.

Arkansas House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman said he saw the same hurry-up tactics in his state, with subsequent “buyer’s remorse.”

Counterterrorism conference threatens to blow up on VA sheriff

The Culpeper County Sheriff’s Office is hosting a counterterrorism program conducted by a controversial former FBI agent – and catching flak for it.

John Guandolo, the presenter, was branded a ”notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist” by the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR urged Culpeper Sheriff Scott Jenkins to disinvite Guandolo and distance his department from the “Jihadi Networks in America” program, billed as “Advanced Counterterrorism Training.”

Sheriff Jenkins told Watchdog.org that 20 staffers from his office will attend the seminar Feb. 25-27 at the Culpeper campus of Germanna Community College.

Comstock’s congressional bid takes fire from right

State Delegate Barbara Comstock, a leading Republican to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, is “an establishment politician” who is damaging the party’s conservative brand, two of her GOP rivals charge.

“Some of her work for big-money firms is a real concern,” said challenger Rob Wasinger. “Voters have a right to know about this.”

Comstock, a three-term delegate from McLean, formerly lobbied for a Native American gaming enterprise that snared convicted felon Jack Abramoff.

She helped Carnival Cruise Lines land $236 million in federal money to provide emergency housing in gambling boats after Hurricane Katrina. Congressional investigators found Carnival, using half-empty vessels, charged four times the allowable rate.

“The Carnival and Indian deals raise real questions whether taxpayers should have to foot the bill,” Wasinger said. “This is precisely what disgusts voters.”

Comstock, who did not respond to Watchdog.org’s request for comment, is contending with a crowded field for the GOP nomination April 26.

Contact Bre Payton at bpayton@watchdog.org or follow her on Twitter @Bre payton.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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