Governor hopeful Cuccinelli talks to local GOP group
Posted: February 7, 2013
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Medicaid expansion, the creation of health insurance exchanges and the requirement that even some smaller businesses offer health insurance to employees could all negatively impact Virginia and the country, according to Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general and the Republican nominee for governor in the November election, spoke to more than 50 local residents at a meeting of the Winchester-Frederick-Clarke Republican Women’s Club on Wednesday at the Holiday Inn on Front Royal Pike (U.S. 522).
Following remarks about himself, his positions and his candidacy, Cuccinelli fielded several questions regarding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), gun control and other issues.
Maryland and the District of Columbia are both considering making all businesses — not just those with more than 50 employees, as called for under the PPACA — provide health insurance to their workers, according to Cuccinelli. This, he believes, could benefit Virginia.
“A lot of those small businesses will cross the Potomac [River] to come move to Virginia just as a matter of survival,” he said.
“Unfortunately, as we get to the end of this year ... the hits on fees, the costs of these insurance packages, are going to hit, and I’m talking to CEO after CEO who’s telling me, ‘Not only won’t we absorb these costs, we cannot absorb these costs.’ That means [costs] are going to pass through to us, our families and people across the country who pay the bills,” he added. “And that is going to be a real sticker shock come the back end of 2013.”
The insurance exchanges — a set of government-regulated and standardized health care plans in the United States, from which individuals may purchase health insurance eligible for federal subsidies — are part of the PPACA and are intended to combine the choice that is theoretically available on the individual market with the bargaining capability of a large employer.
Under federal law, all exchanges must be fully certified and operational by Jan. 1. But a state can opt not to set one up, in which case the responsibility falls to the federal government.
“Gov. [Bob] McDonnell, which I was very pleased to see, chose not to set up a state health care exchange, not to support that effort,” Cuccinelli said. “That has been supported effectively by the General Assembly ... There are significant advantages to us not setting that up. There are advantages to our businesses, to our individuals, to our freedom — which is always a nice thing.”
Regarding possible Medicaid expansion in the state as part of the PPACA, Cuccinelli said Virginia has not decided whether it will do so.
Responding to a question on potential gun control legislation in the wake of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., that killed 26 people — including 20 children — Cuccinelli said there isn’t any pending at the state level.
“Now we don’t really know what they’re going to do at the federal level. That’s always a mystery to us and sometimes it seems like [it’s] a mystery to them,” Cuccinelli said. “In terms of Virginia, we control our own destiny, but [the federal government] has, through the commerce clause, the ability to do some things and we’re going to have to wait and see what happens in that respect.”
“We will, in Virginia, do our best to address the problems that people are concerned about now, but I believe the way to address those is by addressing our shortcomings in the area of mental health in particular and reducing the frequencies of tragedies like Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech.”
He stressed that diagnosing and treating mental illness can play a part in reducing violence and that preventative measures can also reduce the suicide rate of those individuals.
Winchester resident Linda Fenner, president of the local women’s group, said after Cuccinelli’s remarks that the club asked him to speak because its first meeting of the year usually focuses on a health-related topic.
“Since he was such a force in the [lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act], we wanted to kind of get him to give us an update on all that,” Fenner said. “It really hadn’t so much to do with the election as it was to do with helping people understand where we are with Obamacare.”
Cuccinelli was unopposed for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. He will face Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and Independent Tareq Salahi in the Nov. 5 election.
— Contact Matt Armstrong at email@example.com