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Lieutenant Governor Ralph S. Northam

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Don't play politics with Virginians' health


Published in the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star, March 22, 2014

PEOPLE WHO work hard and play by the rules deserve to lead secure, comfortable lives. Unfortunately, for too many Virginians, it's impossible to be truly secure without health insurance: Even a small illness or injury can be devastating. Today, under a plan called Marketplace Virginia, we have a chance to end that kind of suffering--but Republicans in the House of Delegates need to act.

Right now, uninsured Virginians have no good choices when they fall sick. By law, emergency rooms have to admit them--but the ER is no place to treat most illnesses. It would be easier, and significantly less expensive, if folks could go to a doctor when they first got sick, or have access to preventive care to reduce their chances of falling ill in the first place.

As a doctor, I can tell you from firsthand experience that when uninsured Virginians' first stop for care is an emergency room, the services that are provided are incredibly expensive, not just for patients, but for all Virginians. Because the uninsured can't pay for their care, taxpayers, businesses and those with insurance are forced to pick up the tab.

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