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Health Care Hostage

Democrats are fond of telling us how many people will “die” unless we pass Medicaid Expansion, Obamacare, etc.  But they seem less concerned about folks in GOP-supporting rural areas suffering because of a legislative vote.

The latest example comes from my home state of Virginia.  Specifically involving my State Senator, Bill Stanley.  His district includes Patrick County, a sleepy rural stretch at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

patrick county hospitalPatrick County Hospital opened in 1962, after a three-year fundraising drive where local blue-collar workers chipped in 75 cents to $1 a week. It was run by the county for years, then it was owned and operated by Pioneer Health Systems.  They filed for bankruptcy in 2016. The hospital closed last September. That means some patients are staring at a two-hour ambulance drive to the closest hospital.

A public-private partnership that was the hospital’s biggest creditor bought the hospital at auction last month and plans to market the property. Stanley put in a measure to have the State approve what’s called a “Certificate of Public Need” for the hospital to open under new ownership.  The concept behind a “COPN” is worthy of it’s own blog post since it is yet another government-created barrier to business that does little more than keep bureaucrats employed.  Stanley says having a COPN in place will make the property MUCH more marketable.

Stanley introduced an Emergency Resolution that would allow the COPN to kick in immediately, not on the customary July First date that most state laws take effect.  Unlike the COA bill, the Emergency Resolution needs a Super-Majority in the Senate, where Republicans hold a 21-to-19 edge.  The measure got 30 votes this week as ten Democrats voted no.  It’s not the hospital to which they object; but rather Stanley—a Republican.  More specifically, they used their vote to make a sickening point about GOP opposition to the Expansion of Medicaid in Virginia.

Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) said, “We would be delighted if Senator Stanley found it within himself to support Medicaid expansion.”  She pointed out how the patients at the hospital would benefit.  Well, Senator, NO ONE will benefit if the hospital remains a vacant lot, will they?

Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) kicked it up a notch. “I’m very angry that I have constituents — yes, even in Northern Virginia, even in wealthy Fairfax County and Arlington County — that have no health care. They’re suffering. A few of them died. … I think we need to get together to figure out a way we can provide health care throughout the commonwealth and not pick one, small community.”

Senator Howell.  You dolt. You’re not being asked to sink millions of dollars to build a new hospital in Patrick County.  You’re being asked make a procedural move that would allow a private group to do all of the heavy lifting. Granting The Crown’s blessings for a business venture in Southwest Virginia will have ZERO impact on the larger Medicaid Expansion debate.  That is, unless you want to be a jerk and commit political blackmail.

This is the Tony Soprano business model.  “Yeah, I’d like to help you start up your business…but not unless you agree to a five-year service contract with my Sanitation Firm.”  Of course if you refuse Mr. Soprano’s offer, you have competitors you can go to.  No such option exists when you’re waiting on government approval.

The worst case scenario is that Stanley’s Emergency Legislation fails to pass, but the main bill (which requires a simple majority) will clear the General Assembly. That means the COA won’t go into effect until July First.  That means five months without a key marketing tool that could help the hospital open more quickly.  It means five more months of heart attack victims in Patrick County having to spend up to two hours in an ambulance on narrow mountain roads; rather than being able to get to a hospital in minutes.  That means some of them might die.

But hey…they’re just collateral damage in the unending quest to have the Federal Government in control of as much of the nation’s health care as possible.  Small potatoes, right Democrats?


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