Increase Medicaid patients to decrease emergency room visits — it’s one of the top arguments made by those advocating expansion in the Old Dominion.

“When patients get sick, they seek care in our emergency rooms, where costs are the most expensive,” wrote Dr. Jennifer Smith, a physician with Bon Secours Richmond Health System in public comments submitted online to Virginia’s Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission. “With Medicaid expansion, over 300,000 additional Virginians could see a doctor in a timely manner, protecting their own health and avoiding inefficient use of medical resources.”

It’s a common, reoccurring comment that — on its face — makes sense, but it may not be the case. As MIRC decides whether to expand the program by up to 400,000 Virginians, it’s worth evaluating.