Medicaid expansion is not going to happen anytime soon

democrats republicansVirginia Democrats, on Election Night, and the first few days after, were in celebration mood, after their historic gains in the November House elections.

And for good reason. Nobody, probably not even Democrats themselves, gave them much of a chance of doing more than making a symbolic dent in the massive Republican majority in the House.

The GOP entered the election cycle with a 66-34 majority, a near veto-proof margin. And while it didn’t seem that Republicans would make gains to give them that carrot to hold over the head of Ralph Northam, were he to win the gubernatorial election, at best you had to figure the majority would stay in the high 50s.

So when it started to look like it might end up being a 50-50 split, maybe even a 51-49 majority, it was time to dream big.

Maybe outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s push to expand Medicaid would finally happen, under Northam, and that was just the start of things.

But before we could start tearing down Confederate monuments, instituting single-payer and throwing billions into education and roads projects, a three-judge panel decided to count a single vote cast for both the Republican and Democratic candidate in a House race for the Republican.

That decision, made just before the final vote count was certified, allowed that race to finish in a tie, and sent it to a drawing that, come on, are you surprised that the Republican won the “blind draw”?

That one felt like the New York Knicks getting the envelope in the NBA draft lottery that gave them the first pick the year Patrick Ewing was the top prospect playing out again in front of our eyes.

It also had the feel of what Republicans did to block Medicaid expansion back in 2014, when Democrats had the discipline to send that year’s budget deliberations into the summer, before Republicans picked off a state senator with a judicial nomination.

It didn’t seem the end of the world then, but here we are, four years later, still with hundreds of thousands of Virginians who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to be able to afford health insurance, who would be covered in most other states, still going day-to-day without healthcare coverage.

Democrats are going to continue to press the issue with the disputed vote, but it’s a Hail Mary pass from their own 20.

And as much as you’d like to think that there could be room for compromise in this new Virginia that we live in, which after all voted 55 percent Democrat in this year’s House elections, ha!

This one has never been about good public policy, or what’s good for hundreds of thousands of Virginians and their families.

It’s about power, and those who have it not being willing to part with it.

Story by Chris Graham

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