Patrick County Shafted By Virginia Senate Democrats, Stanley Standing On Principle

Many of you know of my upbringing in the hills of Southside and Southwest Virginia in a little place called Cana, Virginia. That little town is in Carroll County, world famous for the Allen Family Courthouse’s “Carroll County Accident.” But what some don’t know is that I cut my political teeth in nearby Patrick County.

I started becoming a political junkie by working on a campaign in Patrick, Carroll, and Franklin Counties working for this upstart Virginia Senator named Bill Stanley, a country lawyer from Franklin County. We traveled together a lot, we stumped at a lot of campaign events together, and we ended up winning that election by 644 votes.

This week, Senator Stanley entered a bill into the General Assembly to reinstate the license for the Patrick County Hospital. The Hospital has been closed for months, leaving residents to drive to Martinsville, Galax, or Mount Airy, NC, to receive medical treatment. The Democrats on the Senate Committee told Stanley that he could either support Medicaid Expansion, or the hospital bill would be defeated. The Gentleman from Franklin stated he would not cave on principle, and the hospital bill was defeated.

Here’s the report from the Roanoke Times: 

RICHMOND — A fight to reopen Patrick County’s lone hospital turned into a fight over Medicaid expansion in the Virginia Senate Tuesday.

Democrats played hardball with a measure to update the license for Pioneer Community Hospital in Stuart, demanding that Sen. Bill Stanley support Medicaid expansion in exchange for their votes in favor of his bill, he said.

The emergency legislation by Stanley, R-Franklin, would retroactively extend the hospital’s license for a year, paving the way for the hospital to reopen after closing in September.

Stanley would not say who asked him to vote for Medicaid expansion, but indicated that it was more than one Democratic senator. Like most Republicans in the General Assembly, Stanley opposes Medicaid expansion and even introduced the so-called Stanley Amendment in 2014 that blocks a sitting governor from expanding Medicaid without action from the General Assembly.

Sen. Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, who voted against the measure, fired back that she has numerous residents in her Northern Virginia district who don’t have health care. They’re hurting and suffering, she said.

“They have hospitals, but they don’t have health care, preventive care, ability to know what their medical problems are,” she said. “I think we need to get together and figure out a way we can provide health care throughout the commonwealth and not just pick one small community.”

Sen. Richard Saslaw, D-Fairfax, said he understood Stanley’s anger and frustration at the bill’s failure. Stanley works hard for the people of his district, but so do 39 other members of the body, Saslaw said.

Every senator is voting for what’s best for their constituents, he said. Saslaw voted against Stanley’s bill after asking the vote be delayed for a day.

“Do I cast political votes sometimes? You bet I do,” he said. “That’s what the process is all about.”

Stanley responded on the Senate Floor to his Democratic colleagues.

This is where I stop reporting and start doing what my mother used to call “telling people what fer and how much.”

In person, Dick Saslaw is a nice person. However, allowing smaller community hospitals to die to advance political careers can be chalked up to nothing short of being a political hack. People in that community will have to continue to drive over an hour to get to a hospital because of a partisan agenda. His political calculations are putting his partisan agenda ahead of that of the people of Patrick County. Senator Saslaw appears to be more concerned about politics than saving lives. These shameful actions should not be tolerated by the voters of Virginia.

Obamacare in Virginia is not going to be something that the voters of Southside Virginia tolerate. I applaud Bill Stanley for standing for Republican principles in the midst of a political storm, never forgetting who sent him to the General Assembly.

Update: Roanoke Times Editorial — Democrats in Virginia Senate cast an ugly vote against rural Virginia

  • Jim Portugul

    Total BS. The republican party has cost Virginia over $10 BILLION Federal dollars so far by not expanding Medicaid. That money went to other states, and those states kept their hospitals open. If your BS were even half true, republicans would not have been castrated at the polls last November. But, castrated may be the wrong word, as I doubt your typical male republican has anything to castrate.

    Where is the trump promised, beautiful, fantastic, wonderful, affordable healthcare bill?

    1) While you write propaganda for trump? Kim Jung Un, along with S. Korea have both made a fool out of trump and the USA. Basically, S Korea gave trump the finger. Ole’ Kim is in the Olympics.
    2) Russia is making a fortune breaking the stupid trump sanctions on N Korea. If you people had half a brain you could see why Obama got the best deal possible with Iran.
    3) S Korea, supposedly our ally, buys its crude oil from our terrorist friends in Iran. How does that stupid S—t work, our ally supports our enemies economy by doing business with them?
    4) Two filty rich, catholic wack jobs, hannity and ingle, on fox news each weeknight tell trump how to run this country. Oh, I know, trump also relies on the biggest liar of them all, the “Lucifer” of AM radio, limbaugh. Sorry, almost forgot. What a joke that has become.
    5) Fox news continues their pep rallys for the air head rbase by talking about Monica Lewinsky, the Clintons, and Obama. What a joke.

    You people are pitiful, to be felt sorry for, and prayed for. Which would be much easier if you were not such “agents of corruption”.

  • old_redneck

    You don’t know what you are talking about.

    First, what you call “Obamacare” is the Affordable Care Act. There is no such legislation as “Obamacare.”

    Second, the ACA and Medicaid expansion are two different things. Medicaid expansion is offered under the ACA, however, people can purchase medical insurance under the ACA whether the state has adopted Medicaid expansion or not. ACA enrollment and Medicaid expansion are not related.

    Third, I’ll bet a month’s pay that a LOT of people in SW VA have insurance under the ACA. In fact, 410,726 people enrolled in private plans through the Virginia ACA exchange during the 2017 open enrollment period. NO doubt a lot of these are in SW VA.


    A study by the Colorado Hospital Association compared states that accepted Medicaid expansion with states that did not (such as Virginia). In states that accepted Medicaid expansion, hospital profits increased, the number of uninsured dropped dramatically, and the cost of medical insurance increased at a rate far below that of states that did not adopt. In states that did not adopt expanded Medicaid, hospital revenues continued to drop, the cost of medical insurance continued to climb at double-digit rates, and rural hospitals continued to close.

    The Patrick County hospital closed for the same reason rural hospitals nationwide are closing: The population served by these hospitals for the most part work at jobs with no medical insurance. Because most of the hospital service area has no medical insurance, people use the ER as their primary care. Hospitals lose lots of money with uninsured people using the ER. As a result, small rural general hospitals such as the Patrick County hospital and Lee Regional Medical Center go out of business.

    Stanley caused the hospital to close. He’s just not smart enough to understand.

  • Martha

    Lee County, VA lost their hospital years ago. A helicopter ride can cost over $20,000 if you need quick medical care. How is that sustainable? Who ends up paying these bills when they are uninsured? Good for the Democrats holding out for Medicaid expansion. Patrick County can suffer along with Lee County and all the other SWVA areas not served. I suggest Patrick County residents look up the cost of their helicopter rides when they have a real emergency! The last time a Republican cared about you…you were a fetus.

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