Va. House Calls for Medicaid Expansion in New Budget

Marco Green
February 19, 2018

He called the proposed project one of the most exciting items in the state budget. Charles Poindexter, R-Franklin County, and Chris Head, R-Botetourt. Terry McAuliffe had included in the budget he proposed in December.

During their own budget presentation Sunday, members of the Senate fiance committee said there was still an opportunity to work with the House on expanding Medicaid and that those conversations were ongoing. "We need to rise to the occasion on the Senate side and join our colleagues in the House", they said. The committee's proposed budget language also would end the expansion if federal support was not maintained at 90 percent.

It also includes almost $43 million in new higher education funding for students in several technical fields and for those who want to become teachers.

"Right now, I haven't seen anything that would make me anything but a 'no.'" said Sen.

The result is a starkly different approach to spending in the next two years, especially for public employee salaries, K-12 and higher education.

The House and Senate will have their budget announcements Sunday, which could provide more clues as to how the debate will swing. House Speaker Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights, praised the effort as a compromise worked out with the help of the Democratic governor, Ralph Northam.

"I have long supported a simple and straightforward expansion of Medicaid".

"Well, we are very pleased with the provisions in the House budget that support expanded coverage to over 300,000 low-income Virginians", Hanken said. "I look forward to working with the House and Senate to finalize this proposal".

Republican Delegate Rob Bell says he opposes the expansion, because Medicaid funding is unsustainable.

The House committee recommendations forecast savings to the state over the next two years of $371 million, mostly sums now spent on medical or mental health care for indigent Virginians.

In a tweet, Kilgore also said President Donald Trump is "open to more creative solutions for getting our hardworking families access to affordable healthcare than the previous administration". "I think the work requirement is very reasonable", said Del.

The cost of the state's share of covering the newly eligible Medicaid enrollees - estimated at $251 million over the two years beginning July 1 - would be funded by a tax on hospitals.

Kilgore's public announcement, first made in an op-ed in the Roanoke Times and in an interview on the John Fredericks Show, is the most telling signal to date that the GOP-controlled General Assembly is on track to pass a form of Medicaid expansion this year.

The Republican-led Senate Finance Committee did not include Medicaid expansion in its budget proposal though, setting up a showdown over the approximately $600 million in differences from the House Appropriations Committee's plan.

"I represent one of the poorest areas of Virginia, the reality is we've got to find some alternative", Morefield said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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