Howell Calls Washington Post Editorial “Offensive”

by | Mar 9, 2015 | Government

Virginia State Capitol. Photo copyright Susan Larson.

By Susan Larson.

The Medicaid expansion battle in Virginia may be most heated between The Washington Post and Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford).

“Howell is leading the campaign to block Medicaid expansion even though the largest hospital in his Fredericksburg district says it desperately needs the money to continue supporting health care for the city’s poor,” The Washington Post wrote on March 5, 2014.

Almost a year later, on February 8, 2015, The Washington Post editorial board called Virginia’s resistance to Medicaid expansion “massive,” and blamed Howell.

Read the editorial here: “Massive resistance, again, in Virginia.”

Howell issued a statement Sunday afternoon, calling the editorial “patently offensive,” saying it contained “false claims,” and warning The Post could “damage its reputation.”

Speaker Howell’s 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.”

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