Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 14, 2014

Morefield: Not invited to attend Medicaid conference

by BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — A Tazewell County legislator, who was absent from a meeting on Tuesday at Tazewell Community Hospital where Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe made his pitch to expand Medicaid to 400,000 low-income residents, said he wasn’t invited.

“I would have been more than willing to attend the conference if I had received an invitation,” State Del. James W. “Will” Morefield, R-Tazewell, said in an email message. “It is shameful for a few of the elected officials attending the event to accuse me of not caring about the well-being of the hospital and the community simply because I do not fully support the current proposal to expand Medicaid.”

Morefield stated in the email that he would have “provided the audience with specifics as to why expanding Medicaid in the current form is bad for the future of Southwest Virginia and the Commonwealth.” Morefield said that McAuliffe “and many of his allies in the Senate and House are working very hard to bring Obamacare to Virginia.” He wrote that he has received thousands of emails and calls from the region from people who have lost coverage. “My own insurance premium increased to an astronomical rate of nearly 100 percent,” he wrote.

“What’s going on in Richmond right now is disgraceful and the Governor’s supporters need to put an end to it,” Morefield wrote. He said that the General Assembly was close to agreeing on a budget, but legislators went home without finishing their work. “We need a budget, then a special session to deal with Medicaid expansion. Anything else is a waste of time and will end in financial tragedy.”

Tazewell County Administrator Jim Spencer said that Charlie Stacy, chairman of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, asked him to contact officials of Tazewell Community Hospital as well as Morefield and State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, to attend the April 1, board of supervisors meeting and make a presentation on the Medicaid expansion issue.

“My staff has been working on it,” Spencer said. “”The request has not yet been confirmed. If it is confirmed, we will try to contact Delegate Morefield and Senator Puckett to see if they can attend,” Spencer said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com