Hundreds of thousands of people in Virginia are about to get health insurance as a result of Medicaid expansion.

But the program has been growing even before the expansion.

In the last 20 years, Medicaid spending in Virginia has almost quadrupled according to numbers from the Kaiser Family Foundation. And, now that Democrats have been able to finally expand Medicaid, David Barns at Americans for Prosperity says Medicaid may end up swallowing the budget. 

“So Virginia is going to want to spend more money on the least deserving of the Medicaid population, those people who could work but don’t,” Barns said. “And so you’re just going to keep seeing them spending more and more money on them to get bigger reimbursements from the federal government.”

Virginia did impose work requirements to get Medicaid. But Barns and others worry that they won’t be enforced. Or that courts might overturn the requirement, which recently happened in Kentucky.

But Frank Shafroth at George Mason University says Virginia’s eligibility requirements are notoriously stingy. “The state ranks 48th in Medicaid enrollees as a percentage of the state population,” Shafroth said. “So Virginia is traditionally being relatively conservative.”

Those eligibility requirements mean Virginia spends less on Medicaid than most states. And although the cost has quadrupled in the last 20 years in Virginia the increases have been largely in line with other states.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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Medicaid Will Expand In Virginia, But Spending Has Been Growing For Years